The launch of Facebook’s bot platform earlier in the year was “over hyped very quickly” said David Marcus, the company’s VP of messaging products, as he admitted that giving developers just two weeks ahead of the launch was not enough for them to build a high-quality product.
Speaking at Disrupt SF 2016, he said the tech giant wanted to start bringing developers on board, and that the ambition of “reinventing the interaction model” at a large scale is not easy.
“I choose to look at it this is a long journey and you need to start somewhere.”
He defended the decision to launch the platform at its F8 conference, as “it is a great opportunity to get developers’ attention”.
“We wanted to enable companies to start building capabilities and APIs and we have 34,000 developers on the platform building capabilities for third parties or building actual experiences” he said.
He also believes the basic capabilities with which the platform launched “wasn’t good enough to replace traditional app interfaces and experiences”. However, he said in the past couple of months Facebook has invested in the service and provided guidance to developers.
According to Marcus, there are a number of verticals for which bots are “working really well”, such as news. Another example is Match.com in Europe, which saw users go from the news feed to becoming a paid subscriber at twice the rate when redirected to a bot in Messenger rather than a website or app.
In the future, Facebook may look into a voice interface for bots and “make Messenger a more essential part of daily lives”.
When asked about group voice calls, he said nothing concrete was in play yet but it was the “logical thing to build” as Messenger has more than 300 million monthly active users of video and voice calling.
Marcus also announced that Facebook is enabling developers to add payment capabilities to their bots without sending users to an external website.