On chat as interface

  • The surface area of the interface is almost untestable.
  • The UI is the log file.
  • Every user interaction is also a survey.
  • Chat is a great interface for the Internet of Things.
Even a Dame thinks it’s a terrible conclusion.

THE CHATROOM IS THE NEW APP STORE

According to Comscore, the typical American downloads a total of zero new apps a month. We’ve got our apps, and we’re happy with them, and we aren’t looking for new ones.

The funnel and the, ahem, sprinkler.
Spray the second half of your product’s lifespan across your market, just like Stephen.

TESTING IS HARD

Ever watch someone try to use one of those old Infocom text games? Half the time, they aren’t trying to solve the puzzle or kill the Grue, they’re just trying to figure out what words the game wants them to type in. Should you take the potion, or get it?

What do you mean, you don’t know “bird”? You just told me there was one singing in the distance!

DEBUGGING IS EASY

If users are having a hard time with your product, it’s often hard to find out. If you make a car with the cup-holders in the wrong places, you need to run focus groups and install hidden cameras to notice it. With software, you need to track mouse movements, clicks, taps, and even where a user’s eyes are looking.

USERS SELF-SEGMENT

Nordstrom and Zappos are famous for their high-touch customer service. People have asked Zappos (whose support employees work for a shoe retailer) to order them a pizza — which they’ve done. Nordstrom has allowed customers to return tires to their store even though they don’t sell tires. When you have an open-ended interface, customers bring you new problems you can fix.

A BROAD LANDSCAPE

The future chat interface looks like a strange mixture of group chat, one-on-one messaging, smart agent, and search engine.

I guess the Blue Ocean of chat apps is group voice party lines.

THE LONG GAME: CHATTING WITH THINGS

For business, chat extends the product lifecycle from cradle to grave. It begins the moment you start looking for a product (via search, or talking to a smart agent from a retailer with whom you have an account), continues through payment, consumption, replacement, repair, resale, and even disposal.

Talking cars. No big hassle.

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Writer, speaker, accelerant. Intersection of tech & society. Strata, Startupfest, Bitnorth, FWD50. Lean Analytics, Tilt the Windmill, HBS, Just Evil Enough.

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Alistair Croll

Alistair Croll

Writer, speaker, accelerant. Intersection of tech & society. Strata, Startupfest, Bitnorth, FWD50. Lean Analytics, Tilt the Windmill, HBS, Just Evil Enough.