Bots on Kik Pass the 20,000 Mark: How Will This Affect Apps?

August 9, 2016 - 2 minutes read

While there are just over 100 bots actually featured in the much-publicized Kik Bot Shop, developer on the platform have created well over 20,000 to-date. The catch: most of these bots are invite-only, accessible only through direct invite from creators.

That said, major brands like CNN and Funny or Die have embraced the platform. Kik’s explosive but controlled bot growth can be seen as a smart move, surfacing only the most valuable bot tools for users while they feel out the market for conversational app experiences.

Kik isn’t alone in bot development. Virtually all the major chat app platforms have jumped on the trend, with Skype, Messenger, and Slack all featuring bots and bot development tools for the past year.

Slack in particular has pursued the utilitarian side of the bot revolution, pouring venture capital into developing tools that make it easier for app developers to build useful, group-specific helper bots. Kik, on the other hand, seems to be taking the entertainment approach: most of the bots feel more experimental, with a heavy dose of personality.

VentureBeat put out a fascinating report on the statistics Kik’s bot surge has created, highlighting the 1.8 billion messages sent to bots by real users so far. Additionally, studies found that bot users were more likely to be female than male, and the highest engagement rates came from brands like H&M and Sephora. Because of this, mobile app developers have good reason to suspect that ecommerce will quickly become a core part of the bot revolution.

Kik is currently working closely with partner WeChat to balance experimentation and utility in their bot offerings.

The question for San Francisco iPhone app developers is: are chat bots a fad? Either way, they’re a fad that’s launched a major app development arms race. The finish line for that race could be years away… or right around the corner.

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