April 12, 2016, CNBC Online
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday the company’s new Messenger Platform for developers to build chatbots.
Speaking from the company’s annual F8 global developer conference, Zuckerberg laid out his vision for the future of the company, criticizing "fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others."
"If the world starts to turn inwards then our community will have to work even harder to bring people together," he said, extolling the virtues of "hope" and "optimism."
"It takes courage to choose hope over fear," he added.
As for building a global digital community, Zuckerberg revealed Facebook’s connectivity initiatives including a solar-paneled plane that will beam down internet.
The future will also heavily feature Facebook’s artificial intelligence programs, Zuckerberg said. And while the company already uses AI for photo recognition and more, the Facebook CEO said the platform will be able to achieve greater understanding of the meaning of user content.
The last element of Zuckerberg’s vision for the future was virtual and augmented reality, and he highlighted the company’s achievements with the Oculus technology, including the milestone of more than 2 million hours of watched video with Gear VR devices.
On the augmented reality front, Zuckerberg said is company is working toward "what looks like normal-looking glasses" that can overlay digital visual elements on top of the real world.
Perhaps the most hotly anticipated Facebook innovation is its work on chatbots — interactive, responsive messaging programs. Reports had indicated Zuckerberg’s company plans to roll out ways for users to communicate with automated representatives for brands and businesses within Facebook’s platforms.
If successful, Facebook could effectively leapfrog the app economy, and create its own thriving digital ecosystem.
Zuckerberg’s Tuesday announcement for Messenger Platform is a beta-stage developer tool powered by artificial intelligence. It will allow programmers to build "natural-language services to communicate directly with people," he explained.
"I’ve never met anyone who likes calling a business, and no one wants to have to install a new app for every service or business they want to interact with," Zuckerberg explained.
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"What they’re doing is building the next platform with messenger," Youssef Squali, Cantor Fitzgerald global head of internet and media research, told CNBC’s "Squawk Alley."The next platform that I think will be at scale at taking messenger and building it into the next portal will allow people not to just communicate among each other, but allow them to communicate with businesses, and, probably as importantly, allow them to stay within that platform to do a whole host of things which now you have to go out and you have to use particular applications for."
Analysts will be looking beyond the technological innovations to the business implications for chatbots and other business messaging features.
"I’m expecting a lot of exciting wwwuct announcements today out of messenger that gives you a clear indication of how they plan to monetize the platform and utilize it over the next several years," Victor Anthony, Axiom Capital Management internet media analyst, told CNBC’s "Squawk Alley."