Silicon Valley is abuzz about messaging bots, and it looks like Google might finally throw its hat in the ring.
In the last several months, startups and big companies alike have been promoting “conversation as a platform,” where users can chat with artificial-intelligence bots to complete a wide range of activities, like ordering an Uber or booking a hotel.
The Wall Street Journal reported in December that Google planned to release a smarter, bot-focused messenger app, but The Information says that the company will instead take a more general approach by offering developers tools to build chat bots for all different messaging platforms.
The move would make sense. Google has struggled to launch a popular messaging app of its own, like Facebook’s Messenger, but it specialises in machine-learning-powered areas like voice recognition and natural-language processing, which could come in handy for developers building bots.
By making tools available, Google could get into the bot space without needing its own app.
Because, ultimately, the concept of bots in general could threaten Google’s search and apps business. One of the benefits to users about chatting with bots is that they’d get app-like capabilities without having to download any new apps.
If people are getting information and making mobile purchases by chatting with artificial-intelligence-powered bots, then they’re not going to be seeing Google’s search ads or downloading from its Google Play Store.
Former ad exec Nick Fox is leading Google’s messaging and chat-bot efforts, as The Information first reported last year.
We’ll likely find out more about Google’s bot plans at its developers’ conference tomorrow. We’ll be attending the event, so follow along!