Podcast: Chatbots vs Mobile Apps

Sep 5

Podcast: Chatbots vs Mobile Apps

In this podcast series we ask experienced Appreneurs for one success story and one fail but in this episode the format is slightly different get a better understanding of Facebook’s drive to get Chatbots as a centre-piece of Mobile Engagement.

  • When are Chatbots a better solution than Apps?
  • What are the technical pros and cons for using bots?
  • Ayush and Pravin from Mindbowser address these and other questions – their team does both Apps and Chatbots.

Sorry about the clicking on my voice track – it proved to difficult to remove and anyway the Mindbowser guys have all the interesting stuff to listen to.

The possible change in landscape is confusing for many people and its the sheer marketing force of Facebook that can force it to the forefront of marketers thought processes. My own personal perspective is:

  1. Facebook (like Apple’s Siri) need to create an end-run around Google’s search as the primary way for consumers to solve problems or buy products. Today most people will look for a solution by:
    • Googling (and choosing between organic and paid results)
    • Being referred by a friend, possibly seeing content on Facebook
    • Going to a vertical App/site like AirBnB, Yelp, Tinder etc
    • Using a vendor they expect will have a solution (Amazon, Walmart or Gap or Wholefoods)
  2. This end-run is essential to each of the giants as their agendas must be world domination…because the other giants will “take it all” if they can.
  3. Messaging (FB Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Snapchat) has grown to be a centerpiece of multi-generation person-t0-person communication.
    • Chat is effectively moving the mobile OS up a layer in the stack.
    • In Asia Vendor-to-person has become commonplace – Facebook is making the big bet that westerners will follow suit (see the Dan Grover rebuttal for that below).
  4. Chat is very functional and it focussed on solving a problem and Facebook probably think that most vendors already actively cultivate a Facebook page for the their brand fans. So they will be able to quickly use chat a trusted channel – this is great for an already captive audience.
  5. But….as SC Moatti said in a previous podcast, its likely this won’t work because bots are in an awkward “middle-ground” of trying to appear human but won’t have the authenticity of  a human – this may ultimately ‘burn’ a Vendor’s reputation with a brand-fan…
  6. Facebook won’t really defeat Google in “discoverability” of a new vendor to solve an existing user’s problem. They need some more search magic to replace Google here.

For a fascinating, knowledgable piece from Dan Grover on “Bots won’t replace apps. Better apps will replace apps” go here. It addresses many of the points above and comes from someone on who is on the inside.

So Ayush and Pravin have some excellent insight from working with early-adopters on bots and how they compare to their existing app customers. Here is the podcast 🙂


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