Messenger chatbot and opening up the Messenger SDK so that developers can build chatbots using the Messenger template (or build from scratch|), was one of the most important announcements at Facebook F8 developer conference. Basically, bots on Messenger are smart programs that enables users to get things done just by sending text messages. Tech experts around the world are actually crowing about the infinite possibilities of chatbots, describing them as the next big thing.
But for Facebook, where does opening the Messenger platform to developers lead to? Uncharted territory mostly. Because lets face it, for chatbots to work on Messenger, Facebook have to go through the operating systems of smartphones like Android and iOS. Where the problem lies for chatbots is what direction Facebook is going to head. Currently, caution is the word from Facebook as they partner with phone makers to make Messenger chatbot work effectively.
However, in the long run, Facebook have to face the reality of Messenger chatbot. For now though, Messenger chatbot is being pitched as a new way to control gadgets. That is, anything users want to do with their devices can be carried out through the bots. Just send in your request and the bots take over. First of all, you need to have the Messenger app on your smartphone right? So, imagine a situation where chatbots in Facebook Messenger can do everything an operating system can do? That means, you don’t need an operating system to actually operate your phone.
Telling the world that Messenger chatbot can be used to book a reservation or an airline ticket is simplifying how important these bots can be in our everyday life. To put it brutally, Messenger chatbot can make the operating systems of smartphones redundant. Because the pertinent question becomes, why should I use a traditional OS to navigate my device when I can just use a bot to do the whole work for me without doing much? So the cautious approach Facebook is taking is actually a fine strategy. Messenger chatbot is not yet advanced enough to work independently of a smartphone’s OS. Facebook need them for now, that is why the folks at Facebook are working hard not to rock the boat in how they relate with companies like Apple and Google
Another scary scenario is the fact that Messenger chatbot at their best can replace any app. Which means users of Facebook Messenger won’t need to download any app from either Google Play Store or the Apple’s App Store. Google and Apple make a large chunk of their income from the millions of apps downloaded by people around the world. If people stop downloading apps because Messenger chatbot can replace and do the work of any app, that is a huge loss to both companies. And they definitely won’t allow Facebook to get away with it while Messenger is on their OS. No reasonable business would allow that.
One gets the feeling Facebook is just dying to hype Messenger chatbot for what it really is. Unfortunately, they have to tread really low key or else Google and Apple might come to view that as a direct competition to their own products and services. Anyway, the genie is already out of the bottle, Messenger chatbot platform is now an open source program. And we know what these independent developers can come up with given enough time. Messenger chatbot may even surpass Facebook’s expectations.