All major tech companies already made their bets on chatbots — except Apple. Last weeks WWDC revealed how Apple is stepping into the conversational world. After the shift from web to mobile and apps now the next big change is coming: from apps to chatbots 🤖.
That is the narrative most big tech companies agree on.
Therefore they invested massively in this field and build products for it.
- Facebook — announced the business on Messenger platform in 2016 and already has over 100k chatbots on the platform
- Microsoft — implements „Cortana“ in nearly all their products, launched chatbots for Skype and provides developers with a sophisticated development kit for chatbots
- Amazon — is leading the market with the home speaker Echo and the assistant Alexa and allows developers to create app-like skills for that new platform
- Google — launched their assistant, a home speaker to go with it and offers the developer tool API.ai and much more
So what about Apple?
Apple launched Siri together with the iPhone 4s on October 4th 2011, the day before Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs passed away. That was long before everybody else rushed towards the conversational world and yet another testimony of Apple’s technological leadership.
But Siri never lived up to the expectations created by the shiny advertisements. To the contrary: Siri never got remarkably better and instead showed more and more “siri-ous” problems.
Given that track record, it’s even more exciting how the world’s biggest technology company is now changing its strategy.
Despite the fact that Apple is more or less the inventor of well orchestrated developer conferences with stunning product announcements and massive media coverage, chatbots were not mentioned in the keynote at all.
But after the keynote their road to chatbots became quite clear.
iMessage for Business
Apple now enables businesses to communicate directly with the over 700 million iPhone users.
The screenshots Apple released show an iMessage user communicating with Apple to buy an iPad (of course he does), which looks just like the chat with friends. Given the fact that iOs is (so far) the operating system generating most revenues for its developers, it’s likely that businesses on iMessage are hoping for the same outcome.
In the preview iMessage for Business starts with customer service and an almost human to agent (human) approach, but we will see here chatbots for many more use cases in the very near future.
With the natively integrated ApplePay that is a big deal for all transactional use cases.
The HomePod was in the keynote. A 300$ wireless speaker with Siri living inside.
Apple emphasizes the quality of the speaker and its primary use case to listen to music. Better sound than Amazon Echo and Google Home, yet smarter than a Sonos 3. Although Apple tried really hard to avoid the direct comparison of Siri and Alexa — that’s what it’s all about. A wireless speaker with Apple Music and Siri doesn’t need an A8 chip. Most likely we will see third parties in an Alexa like ecosystem. Given the experience that Apple has in building ecosystems and the current growth of smart speaker — these are fantastic news for voicebot/chatbot developer
Apple was an early mover in the conversational world, but then lost focus.
It looks like Apple found it’s road to chatbots and is catching up quickly.