Bots vs apps: Is the bot mania real?
Robot typing on a computer keyboard image via Shutterstock
The app economy has matured, but the number of apps that play in the big leagues continues to shrink. The rule “evolve or die” has been tailored to meet our digital expectations. Bots, however, don’t need to bend the rules to attract users. Here is why we have a bit mania on our hands.
Localytics revealed earlier this year that 23 percent of users (from a user base of 37,000 apps) abandon an app after just one use. This means that roughly one in four users are not satisfied with the apps they download and discard them shortly after their first interaction. Localytics CEO Raj Aggarwal concluded in a Re/code post in March this year that “we are in a mobile engagement crisis.”
At the same time, consultancy firm Activate revealed that more than 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed and over 3.5 billion people will have messaging apps on their phones in the next couple of years. About 70 percent of monthly WhatsApp users use the service on a daily basis and about one million people register every day and we didn’t even include Facebook Messenger in this conversation. There is a reason why messaging apps dominate consumer’s mobile engagement and it’s called app fatigue.
Why is everyone talking about bots?
Bots (or conversation UI) offer users more humane experiences and simplify developers’ job since developing a bot on messaging platforms is not as complicated as building a native iOS or Android app.
Downloading an app is a deal-breaker for an increasing number of users, which is why Google presented at this year’s I/O Android Instant Apps; it allow users to run subsections of an app on their phone without having to actually install it. Apple also launched something called App Thinning, which “lets you create apps that use the most device features, occupy minimum disk space, and accommodate future updates that can be applied by Apple.” It’s becoming clear that installing apps is no longer something users are willing to do and Android Instant Apps and App Thinning are Google and Apple’s way of abandoning what appears to be a sinking ship.
Here’s why users love bots
Erik Kalviainen, the founder of a bot building platform called Meya.ai and former Product Manager at Google, wrote in a Medium post that people love bots because they are easier to install than mobile apps and they can easily be shared on social media. Plus, they can exist in live chats, personal assistants, smart watches, cars and other digital environments.
Developers don’t have to worry about the hidden costs of developing mobile apps and they surely don’t need to concoct a lengthy analysis to conclude whether their product is interesting enough to convince users to use it more than once.
However, one of the most obvious advantages of bots is the fact that everyone is a sucker for language and conversation, and the latest advancements in natural language understanding have instilled life into bots. Next time when you interact with a bot, pay attention to how your interactions change and become smarter, more natural and personalized.