In April, Facebook will announce its "Bot Store", an offer enabling Messenger users to chat with bots designed by brands or services.
That's how Ted Livingston, founder of the messaging application Kik, describes the arrival of 'bots' in instant messaging.
The principle is simple: various brands can have their own Messenger robot designed to interact with customers. Eg, you can ask the bot an airline flight information; to buy a ticket; to make a bank transfer.
In a post published on Medium, Ted Livingston gives a vivid example. He joined his friends at a baseball game. Once seated, he realizes he is the only who doesn't have a beer. He had to get up, queue before getting his, thus missing two homeruns. According to him, if the stadium had deployed a bot service, all he would have to do, would have been to scan a QR code, asking the bot for two Budweisers and confirm the payment.
A much simpler process than if he had to go to the AppStore to download an application, install it, register, order beers and then enter his credit card number. The principle of the bot eliminates the friction between the stages of a purchase.
This type of messaging interaction could also affect other sectors such as trade and services. In February 2016, the US site Quartz unveiled its news application designed as a messaging app. There is no list of items to check, the user only has to interact with the bot, so that the latter sums up all essential information. Optionally, a link is provided to the full article for those who want to dig deeper into the topic.
Because if Facebook confirms Bot Store in a few weeks, it will mean that the 800 million active users of the social network will be affected in one go; more than the total number of iPhones sold since its launch. When the App Store was launched, only 6 million people owned an Apple smartphone according to TechCrunch.
Bot Store, therefore, affect more than 100 times the users affected by the launch of the App Store in 2008. Several messaging applications have already taken the plunge; Kik, Slack, Telegram and certainly the most advanced, WeChat, can already order a taxi or a meal.
Last January, Facebook made available its "Chat SDK," allowing third party developers to develop apps dedicated to the Messenger app. A few months earlier, in August 2015, the company announced M, the social giant's own version of personal assistant, to help purchase items, book restaurants or plan a trip.