August 15, 2016

The Chatbot hype will fizzle out-or will it?

Bots are right now in the Technology trigger phase of the Gartner hype cycle. Are they likely to succeed, or are they likely to fizzle out?

Lets take a look at these statistics:

More people access the web using mobile as compared to desktops or PCs, and the trend is likely to accelerate further.

Mobile vs Desktop web usage

A large percentage of people are yet to get online. Since most of them are will be from developing countries, they will likely access the web via a mobile phone

Percentage of humans who access the web

This suggests that mobile App usage is likely to grow. However, App downloads are declining in developed markets and plateauing in developing markets.

App usage declining

In developing markets, this may be caused by users not wanting to download Apps on relatively expensive data (3G) connections.

Mobile messaging continues to be on an upward growth trajectory, being used by 3.2 billion users currently and expected to grow to 3.8 billion users by 2019, according to a report from

Mobile messaging usage

  • Chat platforms such as WeChat have shown that buying and interacting with bots is extremely commonplace.
  • Wechat has 762 million active users (as of Jan 2015)
  • It enables its users to do such things as paying water bills, booking doctor's appointments, and getting food delivered.
  • A look at internet banking usage in China using WeChat, 2013 stats

Internet banking usage

It has been pointed out that WeChat's success is unlikely to be duplicated easily, for a host of reasons

  • Chinese users leapfrogged the rest of world to start using Mobile phones directly instead of migrating from desktops/laptops.
  • This growth was at a time when data was expensive and users preferred a single App (Chat) rather than download individual Apps.
  • There was widespread SMS usage since call rates were high, and that translated into high chat usage once users migrated to smartphones.
  • Chat platforms in other countries do not have as widespread an adoption.
  • Mobile users in other countries have a high degree of familiarity with mobile website and Apps, so are unlikely to shift to using messaging as a replacement for it.

Here's a video from the NYTimes talking about the Wechat experience

To sum up,

  • Chatbot usage is most markets may grow, but not at the expense of apps.
  • Usage is likely to be lower for mature markets and higher in developing markets.


[1] App Download stats (

Tags: Chatbot hype Why Chatbots