The arrival of bots to Facebook's Messenger app has the potential to transform how people communicate with brands, but analysts said the fight for consumers' attention in this emerging space is just beginning.
"There will be a lot of excitement about the potential for these bots," said Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter. "We are somewhat more cautious."
As the marketplace for apps rapidly matures — most people spend 84 percent of their time in just five apps each month, according for Forrester — companies will increasingly try to get user's attention via those most-popular apps. Thus, the rise of chatbots.
Facebook has a big advantage here, because brands and companies naturally want to be where users are, and the social network's Messenger app currently has 900 million monthly active users and its WhatsApp has more than a billion monthly active users. The company said Tuesday that it processes 60 billion messages a day across Messenger and WhatsApp, three times more than SMS.
The real question is how well the bot technology will work and whether it will be good enough to become a utility for businesses and see mass adoption by users, Schachter said. Either way, it will be at least a couple of years before it begins to drive revenue.
"We simply want to see execution before we get too excited about the opportunity," said Schachter.