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Facebook's Messenger Bot Store Could Be Most Important Launch Since App Store (techcrunch.com) 60

An anonymous reader writes from an opinionated article on TechCrunch by Tom Hadfield: If Facebook announces the "Messenger Bot Store" at F8, as many predict, it would be arguably the most consequential event for the tech industry since Apple announced the App Store and iPhone SDK in March 2008. Today, Facebook Messenger has 800 million monthly active users -- more than 100 times the number of iPhone owners when Apple launched the App Store. In January, TechCrunch first reported rumors of Facebook's secret Chat SDK for building Messenger bots. If and when Facebook announces a Bot Store, it will mark the "end of the beginning" of a new era: messaging as a platform. Over the summer, The Information broke the news that AI-powered Facebook M would enable Messenger users to make purchases, restaurant reservations, and travel bookings within the messaging interface. A Messenger Bot Store would have far-reaching consequences not only for entrepreneurs and investors, but also developers and designers. Sam Lessin, the CEO of Fin, says the rise of chat-based user interfaces will mark "a fundamental shift that is going to change the types of applications that get developed and the style of service development." For a time, bots were perceived to be plain-text exchanges and as such were often described as "invisible apps." As Jonathan Libov at USV points out, "just because the container is a messenger doesn't mean that all the apps inside are text-based." Tomaz Stolfa says there is "unexplored potential in blending conversational interfaces with rich graphical UI elements." If 800 million Facebook users start discovering bots in Messenger after F8, it will vindicate those who have been saying bots are the new apps.
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Facebook's Messenger Bot Store Could Be Most Important Launch Since App Store

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  • What?

    Facebook Messenger is Emacs in disguise?

    • Facebook Messenger is Emacs in disguise?

      No, it's more like Facebook's Messenger is trying to reinvent Google Wave's cool - but thoroughly useless bot ecosystem.

  • by Freshly Exhumed ( 105597 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @07:24PM (#51718939) Homepage

    Let's find a way to organize bots into committees. That'll do them in.

  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai@SLACKWAREgmail.com minus distro> on Thursday March 17, 2016 @07:26PM (#51718953) Homepage
    Maybe this is me wanting the kids off my lawn, but I don't think I've ever wanted a technology launch to fail so badly. The potential for abuse and bloat is just enormous.
  • by Time_Ngler ( 564671 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @07:34PM (#51718987)
    Wow, a new way to make purchases, restaurant reservations, and travel bookings! Truly, the new beginning.
  • Hnnnggghhh.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @07:34PM (#51718989)

    I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...

    Stolfa says there is "unexplored potential in blending conversational interfaces with rich graphical UI elements."

    Kill. Me. Now.

    --
    BMO

    • by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Thursday March 17, 2016 @08:37PM (#51719307)

      I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...

      If Slashdot had finished rolling out beta and turned the comment system into a proper blend of conversational interfaces with rich graphical UI elements, you could have written that sentence with nothing more than an animated emoticon.

      Instead it got sold to a bunch of hacks who seem to care more about usability than hipness...

    • I must be missing something here.

      An 'app store' can allow everyone from Amazon to Squeenix to Mom & Pop Donuts to Ambitious Undergrad to (relatively easily) create and distribute an infinite variety of programs. Fitness trackers. 8-bit fishing games. Stage lighting controllers. Ride hailing platforms. Apps for navigation and accounting and making farty noises.

      What rich new veins of human experience are we tapping into with a 'bot store'? And how many would-be 'bot developers' even have the w
    • I think Clippy demonstrated the potential outcome more than adequately.

    • I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...

      Stolfa says there is "unexplored potential in blending conversational interfaces with rich graphical UI elements."

      Kill. Me. Now.

      -- BMO

      I'm surprised he failed to mention that this was a synergistically disruptive paradigm shift in the Cloud.

  • I only have a face book account so that someone else can't register an account in my name and spew god knows what.
    With a message chat bot, face book might become usable! It can reply to messages, post random links to tech stuff and read other people's dribble so that I don't every have to log on. I can finally continue to do what I'm not doing already! Non-problem officially solved.

  • ...but will this improve my connection speed?

    • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

      You jest, but the AI chat bot concierge thing was done on AOL many years ago with SmarterChild [wikipedia.org] (and AI chat in general long before that by ELIZA...). It was a goofy idea then, and is still a goofy idea now. I guess even Indians are getting too expensive these days...

  • 800 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vanyel ( 28049 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @08:18PM (#51719203) Journal

    Because messenger is part of the facebook page, everyone on facebook uses it? Someone is very optimistic... Facebook will get financial information out of my cold, dead, hands.

    • by labnet ( 457441 )

      Because messenger is part of the facebook page, everyone on facebook uses it? Someone is very optimistic... Facebook will get financial information out of my cold, dead, hands.

      Comrade, I see you are having trouble adjusting to our 'new utopia'.
      Don't you realize the corporation loves you!
      Where once you endangered yourself with face to face interactions, we have now provided you with a virtual cohabitation that empowers your choice and well being.
      Be assured; once we have eliminated cash, your motivation to participate in the 'new utopia' will be irresistible.

    • Actually because messenger is now a separate app to facebook in my experience I find more people actively using messenger than posting on facebook. No I'm serious there are many people I know who have gotten the shits with facebook itself but keep using the messaging service.

  • I'd rather work with humans on the other end of a chat interface like this:
    http://techcrunch.com/2015/02/... [techcrunch.com]

    I wonder if FB "AI" is going to be like the Netflix "AI" that did the recommendations engine - based on human intelligence.

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @02:49AM (#51720609) Homepage

    Trying to hype his start up and market segment.

  • So basically, Facebook will provide a command-line interface to lots of services. I will not use it because Facebook, but I like the direction this is heading.

  • The end of the world? blending conversational interfaces with rich graphical UI elements is scary? I suppose it depends how you use it.

    Yes, I realize that we are in a sort of difficult period in computing. There are still a lot of us that remember learning programming as kids, and it was high tech and new - and the only way to interact with computers. And yet there is a huge percentage of people under 24 which have absolutely no idea how technology works; I'd put them in a lower class than my mother who is

  • Who wants a point and click app, when you can have a textual conversation in Facebook messenger. I mean, it is so much quicker to type out a block of text and hope a bot can figure out what I am saying than it is to click an icon. WTF. The only way something like this could work, is if "OK Google" and Siri could take direct commands like "OK Google, I need to book a flight to CLE from STL tommorow on United Airlines" But Again, I would bet that Google and Apple are working on their own concoction fo
  • China has had WeChat Pay and quite a few other integrated functions (e.g. adding minutes to phone card) for quite some time. It even allows one to send money to other WeChat users, assuming both have a linked bank account.
  • Tomaz Stolfa says there is "unexplored potential in blending conversational interfaces with rich graphical UI elements."

    Rich graphical UI elements, like ads?

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