I think bots are interesting not only for the services they provide, but because they reduce the UI to simple conversation, and move focus from using Google search and browsing websites to the chat window. Just like Google have been moving towards an “all-in-one” solution with their search box (which now sits prominently in the address bar), the trend seems to be to shift from “search and browse” to “ask” or even “command”.
I think about it this way, usually when you open your Google page and start typing away, you already know what you want. Let’s for example say you want to buy the best possible seats at a movie as soon as they are available. You already know what movie you want to see, you already know what cinemas are in your area, etc. But you still have to click your way through to get to the booking screen, and worst of all, you need to time it exactly with the ticket release date to get the best seats before everybody else. This is where a good chat bot comes in handy. Just explain what you need, and let the bot do the work.
In the first wave we’re probably mostly going to see simple services like ordering pizza or listing new dvd releases. Thinking about how to make these bot apps marketable for the general supplier will be more than one man’s job, to say the least. I’m forecasting a large number of customisable code templates (CodeCanyon, anyone?) that the average local IT guy can tweak and sell to local clients that want to get in on the channel. We’ll probably also see a need for interaction overview, display and statistics (ThemeForest?) and integrations with existing accounting and sales systems. While Facebook will do what they can to clamp down and monopolising their bit, opening a Bot Store is a sign they understand that the complexity of serving to a multitude of differing end market segments and objectives is better left to niche suppliers.
The second wave will possibly be more individual data driven, with chat cues like “show me the status of my application”, or “how much money will I have left by the end of next month”. The possibilities are as endless as the rest of the internet, it will “simply” be a step in the evolution of diminishing the distance from need to delivery. And once chat bots are just as common as web pages, there will be a gazillion choices of UI, presentation, design and customisability. Basically something that Envato authors should be able to provide