Chatbots in itself are by far not a new phenomenon.The generally recognized first chatbot appeared as early as in 1966.

They appeared mostly in chats like ICQ, Yahoo, MSN, and many of them were quite sophisticated already – they could update you on weather forecasting, be your private English language tutor or even offer you customer support to some extent.

Even though some people think they went dormant for at least a decade until recently, in reality, chatbots have always been present.

So, having bots in messaging apps like Telegram or Messenger is actually nothing new, and what they did back then is similar to what they do now.

Why then chatbots became such a hot topic this year that every company seems to rush into building its own bot, some publications throw around phrases like “This is the Year of the Bot”, and Slack announced a $80 million fund to encourage developers to build among other things bot services for its communication tool?

It’s worth starting by exploring what recently emerged bots can do in the first place. Without leaving your messaging app, you can buy a plane ticket, book a medical appointment, order an Uber ride or pre-order a taco to pick it up at the nearest Taco Bell location.

Facebook, for example, is reportedly working with Bank of America, Burger King and Staples to improve shopping experience for its users via bots in Messenger. Surely, one would wonder why people would use a bot of all things to perform any of the above.

Why not just open the Uber or the United Airlines app?

It’s not like you’re living in your chat app, you have to open it just the same.

Yet, a simple test with most companies’ apps shows that it takes you at least half a dozen clicks to get what you want. Or imagine you’re ordering pizza for yourself and your friends: With a bot, there is no switching between the chat, checking what pizza toppings your friends want to have, and the pizza delivery app.