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Google’s chatbot strategy is missing something important

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Victor Schenck
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Today Google revealed that it s developing a powerful chatbot that will be able to answer people s questions and carry out certain tasks.

The Google Assistant will be able to respond to voice queries, not just text input, making it more accessible than the M virtual assistant in Facebook s Messenger app.That s great, and I m excited about using it across many devices, including the Google Home speaker that was announced today.

But the overall Google Assistant strategy is missing something.See, in today s keynote, Google executives showed how the Google Assistant could do things while relying on many third-party tools, and not just Google s own existing capabilities: buying movie tickets, purchasing and delivering food, getting updates on travel plans, displaying restaurants to visit, making and changing dinner reservations, sending text messages, offering miniature games to play, and providing status updates on deliveries.But when you re using the Google Assistant, the interaction is nearly always with Google — when you tell it to buy movie tickets, for example, you re not talking to a Fandango bot.

There are already Messenger bots for 1-800-Flowers and online retail Spring, and there are Skype bots for Westin Hotels & Resorts and Domino s Pizza.

In Google s bot world, there is one lone bot, and that is Google — interactions with other services are brief.You could defend this model by saying that it will be simpler for users — you don t have to jump from bot to bot, and instead you use just one.

Never mind that chatbots can be used for sales or marketing or customer support — many companies already have plenty other things to implement and maintain, and the fact that their services won t be prominently displayed could be a turnoff.

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Victor Schenck
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