Stop Calling Them Bots: The Micro-app Revolution Is Coming

April 22, 2016 - 3 minutes read

AI assistant apps

“Bots. UI-free apps. SMS services.” Technologists are calling them something new every week. Here’s the bottom line for mobile app developers: the revolution will not be televised — but it might send you a timely, helpful chat message.

This isn’t a bad thing for Chicago iPhone app developers. It will, however, require development companies to adapt to major strategy changes over the next 1–5 years.

…But what’s driving the bot revolution? Aside from the simple fact that mobile logic is getting smarter, as we see it there are three major market factors contributing to the inevitability of AI bot apps:

1. Major players dominating mobile ecosystem

The ultimate commodity in the mobile industry is user attention. No matter how polished and useful an app is, it’s worthless if nobody is paying attention long enough to try it out.

Attention matters for bots and AI apps because the mobile ecosystem is increasingly dominated by major players: huge social networks like Snapchat and Facebook alongside national-scale services like Uber and the Google apps suite have quickly become the default for mobile users.

The glamour of the Apple App Store has worn off enough that users are experimenting less, and instead expect that their apps will “just work” — preferably with as little effort as possible. And that’s where bots deliver.

2. Social poised to disrupt e-commerce

Here’s the trend that matters with social media: the move towards privacy. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Snapchat, every new network has acted less as a soapbox and more as a water cooler for IRL social circles.

Internet marketing has eroded user trust to the point that social has become a valuable marketplace: as the thriving sales scene on Instagram attests to.

Many mobile app developers are predicting that AI apps will play into this trend by integrating social and e-commerce without the necessity for “middleman” interfaces that block users from converting to customers.

2. App streaming making a play for native market share

Finally, Google’s recent move toward’s streaming apps hints at a future where streaming app content will be indistinguishable from native when it comes to performance.

What does this mean for mobile app developers and bot makers? It means that integrated services (think Facebook Messenger’s AI assistant bot app) will have a huge advantage, and reach user faster than ever before.

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