Mobile Commerce

Google's New AI-Powered Mobile Messaging Play

Google is in the midst of building a new mobile messaging service that will link to its artificial intelligence platform, along with chatbot technology.

The link across all those offerings will be a competitive effort to joust with rivals such as Facebook, according to unnamed sources that spoke with The Wall Street Journal.

Messaging services number among the more popular offerings in the mobile app arena, with roughly 2 billion users around the globe, according to WSJ, citing Portio Research. The Google duo of Hangouts and Messenger are not staunch challengers to WhatsApp and Messenger, which are owned by Facebook. The Google apps also trail behind Tencent’s WeChat, which has the critical mass of the Chinese consumer. Google must also contend with the fact that some apps — in this case, WeChat — have been loading up on additional features, such as bill payments.

The Google service will work with a series of technology initiatives, such as software and chatbots, with the ability to answer questions via messaging platform, said WSJ, quoting the unnamed sources.

There’s no name for the service or launch date in the offing, though the service has been in development for at least a year, the project of a team led by Nick Fox. Fox has been in search of chatbot companies to buy up, with a proposed acquisition in October of startup 200 Labs. Two sources told WSJ that 200 Labs rebuffed the offer. That company has created a rating service for chatbots via messaging app Telegram.

Under the Google service, users would be pushed toward certain chatbots, in a manner WSJ described as being similar to the Google search engine. The chatbot-based offering would be a strategic move away from a huge reliance on the search engine function, said the publication.

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