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Facebook reported a monumental second quarter on Wednesday, driven largely by the success of its mobile business.

The company posted strong growth in both its monthly active users (MAU) and ad revenue for Q2 2016. Mobile MAU climbed to nearly 1.6 billion during the quarter, or 92% of Facebook's 1.7 billion total users, according to its earnings release

And the number of mobile-only MAU showed impressive growth as well: Users who access Facebook solely on a mobile device are quickly approaching 1 billion (967 million), or 57% of Facebook's total MAU, and up 13 percentage points from 44% of the platform's user base in Q2 2015.

Facebook’s success with mobile demonstrates why its chat apps are so important. The company is adding an increasing number of features to its chat apps to make them more attractive to users. This includes looking to build video products into both Messenger and WhatsApp, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts during the earnings call.

But the company could be looking to add even more features to Messenger. A tweet from Uber Developer Experience Lead Chris Messina suggested that Messenger has built-in support in its source code that enables features like paid subscriptions from publishers via bots, voicemail playback, and game sharing.

While Facebook has yet to confirm the new features, it makes sense that the company would add these capabilities into Messenger: 

  • Subscriptions offer a monetization strategy for publishers. Chat apps are increasingly being used as content distribution platforms for publishers, particularly through bots like CNN's. However, the question remains as to how Messenger would monetize the service.
  • Voicemail is an integral feature of phones. Facebook has made it clear that it intends to ultimately replace the phone number. Giving users the ability to leave voice messages is an important value add to the Messenger app.
  • Sharing games could incentivize gaming developers to build for the app.Discoverability of gaming apps is a primary concern for developers. Virality, or organic growth through word-of-mouth, is a perfect example of how chat apps could provide a better discovery tool for gaming apps. 

Facebook is likely looking to build its Messenger platform into the app store of the future.Bots present a lucrative monetization opportunity for Facebook, similar to how app stores became moneymaking ecosystems for Google and Apple. If the company can monetize Messenger in the same way that Apple has monetized the App Store, Facebook could generate annual revenue of up to $32 billion from chatbots, according to BI Intelligence estimates. Moreover, the burgeoning bot ecosystem serves to benefit publishers, brands, and developers alike. 

Advancements in artificial intelligence, coupled with the proliferation of messaging apps, are fueling the development of chatbots — software programs that use messaging as the interface through which to carry out any number of tasks, from scheduling a meeting, to reporting weather, to helping users buy a pair of shoes. 

Foreseeing immense potential, businesses are starting to invest heavily in the burgeoning bot economy. A number of brands and publishers have already deployed bots on messaging and collaboration channels, including HP, 1-800-Flowers, and CNN. While the bot revolution is still in the early phase, many believe 2016 will be the year these conversational interactions take off.

Laurie Beaver, research associate for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on chatbots that explores the growing and disruptive bot landscape by investigating what bots are, how businesses are leveraging them, and where they will have the biggest impact.

The report outlines the burgeoning bot ecosystem by segment, looks at companies that offer bot-enabling technology, distribution channels, and some of the key third-party bots already on offer. The report also forecasts the potential annual savings that businesses could realize if chatbots replace some of their customer service and sales reps. Finally, it compares the potential of chatbot monetization on a platform like Facebook Messenger against the iOS App Store and Google Play store.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • AI has reached a stage in which chatbots can have increasingly engaging and human conversations, allowing businesses to leverage the inexpensive and wide-reaching technology to engage with more consumers.
  • Chatbots are particularly well suited for mobile — perhaps more so than apps. Messaging is at the heart of the mobile experience, as the rapid adoption of chat apps demonstrates.
  • The chatbot ecosystem is already robust, encompassing many different third-party chat bots, native bots, distribution channels, and enabling technology companies. 
  • Chatbots could be lucrative for messaging apps and the developers who build bots for these platforms, similar to how app stores have developed into moneymaking ecosystems.  

In full, the report:

  • Breaks down the pros and cons of chatbots.
  • Explains the different ways businesses can access, utilize, and distribute content via chatbots.
  • Forecasts the potential impact chatbots could have for businesses.
  • Looks at the potential barriers that could limit the growth, adoption, and use of chatbots.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of chatbots.

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