As reported on by The Wall Street Journal two days ago, citing people familiar with the matter, the Internet giant Google is allegedly working on a brand new messaging app to take on the growing popularity of apps for keeping in touch, namely Facebook-owned Messenger and WhatsApp.
In addition to messaging capability, the app is said to put a big emphasis on so-called chatbots, smart personal assistants that will scour the web and other sources to answer a question.
The effort is led by Google veteran Nick Fox, who has been leading a team working on the new service for at least a year and is Vice President of Communications Products.
“In October, Mr. Fox offered to buy 200 Labs, a startup that builds chatbots, but the firm declined the offer, according to two people familiar with the situation,” as per WSJ.
200 Labs is behind a marketplace and rating service for chatbots on Telegram, a secure messaging app that offers hundreds of chatbots for things like the weather, image search, news and dating.
“Google is pursuing a similar goal with its messaging service,” planning to allow third-party chatbots on its service which will “steer users to specific chatbots”.
Google is said to take advantage of a technology it developed in the summer that lets chatbots learn how to talk with humans by analyzing dialogue from movies.
Google Hangouts for iPhone.
The biggest problem Google faces is the undeniable fact that the company has never been successful in the messaging app market.
Aside from confusing users with multiple chat services it used to maintain, its two key messaging apps—Hangouts and Messenger—have failed to give the likes of Facebook and China-based Tencent a run for their money.
Besides, the barrier to entry may be too high. Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp platforms combined have nearly two billion users. Tencent-owned WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China, claims 650 million active users.
Viber recently passed 600 million active accounts, Skype has about 300 million users, Snapchat this summer passed hundred million daily active users while Kik Messenger’s user base counts about 250 million accounts.
Facebook’s “M” personal assistant in Messenger.
On top of that, the transformation from messaging apps to agents manipulating messaging apps on behalf of the user has been underway for some time now.
Some chat apps, for instance, already pack in versatile features designed to let users accomplish tasks other than exchanging messages. WeChat, for instance, lets users shop, pay bills, book appointments and more. And as of recently, Facebook’s Messenger is a platform for third-party services integration, like Uber.
In fact, Facebook is testing a digital assistant feature in Messenger, called “M,” that uses a combination of artificial intelligence and live human support to help users purchase products, deliver gifts, book restaurants, log appointments, complete various tasks and find information.
Source: The Wall Street Journal