Finding your Shangri-la with Chatbots
Nestled away, hidden from the insanity of modern social networks is a pure ecosystem ready to unleash its potential. Fictional? I think not. Difficult to embrace… this is defined by those that seek. But for the few willing to explore and experiment, they will find an audience eager for products they could never dream of.
There are moments in the evolution of technology where new challengers enter the arena, and win big. Think about Google’s rise when they were just a fledgling company so many years ago or Netflix battling a (then) dominant Blockbuster organization. Let me tell you something. This is not one of those moments.
Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, WeChat. These are the new titans of commerce for the next decade. And guess who runs the party? Messenger and WhatsApp are both products of Facebook while iMessage is an Apple exclusive. For those of you who haven’t heard of WeChat, it is owned and operated by Tencent. Not a household name to you? Tencent is a “Chinese investment holding company whose subsidiaries provide media, entertainment, payment systems, smartphones, internet mobile phone value-added services and operate online advertising services in China.” Market value in August 2017… $400B. Yes. Billion with a ‘b’.
So the players are big, what about the platforms? Three quarters of all smartphone users will turn on WeChat in a given month (source). Messenger and WhatsApp have 1.2B monthly active users (source)… each! And now Apple now has a Venmo/Paypal competitor within iMessage (source). Have I gotten you excited yet by painting the constellation aligning in front of our eyes? These are not platforms to bet against. They are run by some of the world’s most prolific and expert software/communications companies. With combined market cap across them in the trillions, I can’t emphasize enough how the time to invest into chat is now.
Before I make some practical recommendations on how to find your audience, your Shangri-La, within the vast billions out there, I want to tell you a story about the app ecosystem.
Approximately eight years ago, a battery application for iOS began to get some attention. There was an emerging market within apps that had just started to rear its head. This simple little app written by college sophomores at Valpraiso got my attention. A naive college undergraduate made a bet. What if Google’s platform bet, Android, could have the same effect? I got to work on a handful of applications that ultimately received millions of downloads across them and critical acclaim. A bet that paid off big time. With the app marketplaces now saturated, for those of us not sporting billion dollar market caps, we need to focus on a new wild west.
OK. You’re sold. You’re ready to experiment into the chat domain but where do you begin? Instead of writing a top ten list, let’s just aim for two takeaways that will provide a shortcut into this market. The first: Facebook Discover tab. A brand new feature from Messenger allows you to explore and use all the apps available. Without understanding the state-of-the-art, there is no hope in creating something new. Search your industry and competitors. Learn what is going on and where there is an opportunity to strike.
And when you’re ready to explore the world of bots, simply head over to the BotList. A continually growing search engine to explore and learn how the market is developing.
Now get out there and discover your Shangri-La.