Forget the Apple Car or robots; UBS says Apple needs to jump on the “bot” development platform

A new report from UBS — which provides financial advice and solutions to “wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland” — says Apple needs to jump into “bot” platform development or its app-based software ecosystem will be threatened.

Facebook recently introduced “chatbots” built into its messaging service while Microsoft launched its “Bot Framework” software tools for developers, putting pressure on Apple to respond, says the report, as noticed by Investor’s Business Daily.

“Do I think that Apple’s in trouble if it doesn’t do something in a bot’s world? Sure, because why would you want to download and install all sorts of apps from the App Store when you can get access to bots effectively through one app?,” Bruce Wilcox, director of natural language strategy at Kore, a startup developing bots for enterprise platforms such as (CRM), told UBS. iPhones have had a charisma of a better user experience. Bots are going to be wiping out user interface distinctions. The App Store will sell fewer things. People will have less reason to buy an iPhone. So yes, Apple’s going to have to do something.”

Apple has at least looked into ‘bots. In May 2015, Apple confirmed the existence of its Applebot web crawler. A web crawler is an Internet bot that browses the Web in a methodical, automated manner, typically for the purpose of Web indexing. Apple says that Applebot is used by Siri, its personal digital assistant, Spotlight suggestions, and its Safari search engine. UBS thinks the Cupertino, California-based company may be able to use its Siri voice recognition technology along with artificial intelligence to catch up in bots,

Mark Hibben — an independent iOS developer who blogs about technology trends and companies (the focus of his investments) said in a 2015 Seeking Alpha op-ed that Apple may gradually develop a search capability to rival Google.

Here's Hibben's reasoning: "This is not about kicking Google to the curb this year, or even the next. This would be a long-term strategic move by Apple that might take something like five years to pay off. Doing search well is a huge undertaking requiring massive resources and manpower. After all, Microsoft has been at it for years, and what do they have to show for it? A 20% search share in the U.S. and a search engine that is still inferior to Google’s."'