News Flash! A bots vs. apps showdown is coming. And according to Stefan Kojouharov, one of the founders of the Chatbotlife website, bots are going to kill off 99% of apps. In his article, This is how Chatbots will Kill 99% of Apps Stefan makes a strong case for bots vs. apps. But how are chatbots going to do this? By making our lives simpler. Kojouharov’s argument is that they’ll do it by using a standardized UI. By interacting with us through conversation rather than navigation. And by making both routine and complicated tasks easier and faster.
What is a chatbot you may well ask?
A chatbot is a computer program that mimics conversation. Typically they are integrated into messenger services (Facebook, Slack, Kik, etc.) or sometimes chat windows on websites. These programs mimic natural conversation using a set of pre-determined rules, responses or searches and in some cases AI.
Imagine you are using Facebook Messenger and you decide you want to buy a new pair of shoes. Your favorite retailer is The Bay. If the Bay has a chatbot on Messenger you can simply send a text telling them what you are looking for. After a couple of quick questions, The Bay’s chatbot can send you links (or e-mails) to the shoes you are interested in.
Say you are looking for the weather. In the old model, you would have gone to the Weather Channel’s website, typed in your postal code or navigated to a specific page. Or you could go to an app on your phone. With a chatbot, you send a text asking for the 7-day forecast or current conditions. Quick and easy.
Apps are already out of control
How many apps do you have on your phone? How many do you actually use? According to a stat quoted in Kojouharov’s article only the top 1000 apps out of the more than 1 million apps on the IOS and Android app stores have more than 50,000 users. Part of the argument in this article is that folks have “app fatigue”. Too many interfaces, too much navigation, too much discovering and learning to do. The bots vs. apps argument is complicated but I think most of us can sense that there is something to it. Even if you haven’t totally wrapped your head around what chatbots are or could become it’s hard to see using more apps on a regular basis.
Bots vs. apps vs. digital assistants cage match
Bots may be the next evolution toward a better interface with the depth of content and functionality available online. Because they offer the potential for deep personalization, driven at an individual level that apps just don’t seem to offer. But bots vs. apps may be an oversimplification. There is a challenger already present. Digital assistants, (Siri, Corona, et al) already offer some of the personalized search functionality bots are going to offer. Much of what holds folks back from using digital assistants is the notion of talking, out loud, to machines. From what we can see there will always be room for a few key highly-functional apps on our phones, but the next evolution will be powered by the showdown to come between chatbots and digital assistants.
You can read Stefan’s interesting article here.