VentureBeat’s Bots Channel tracks the most important news and analysis from the exploding field of bots and messaging. Each week, we select the top stories and present them in our free weekly newsletter, BotBeat. We include news stories by VentureBeat staff, guest articles from leading figures in the bots community, and a good number of posts from a wide variety of other outlets. You can subscribe to our BotBeat newsletter to receive this information in your inbox every Thursday.

Here’s this week’s newsletter:

It’s all about brand loyalty. Whether Coke and Pepsi, Newsweek and Time, or McDonalds and Burger King, brands know that consumers, once hooked, are loath to switch. It was true in the Mac versus PC wars, it’s true now for Android versus iOS, and the same pattern is proving true for voice bots.

Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana all want to be your everything. These intelligent assistants have been slowly and steadily making their way onto a range of devices, from the expected — Echo and Home and laptops — to the surprising — Sonos speakers and wheelchairs (kinda obvious, actually).

Last year, consumers bought more than 6.5 million voice-first devices — a nearly 400 percent increase from 2015, according to VoiceLabs, a voice analytics firm. The company forecasts similar growth for these devices in 2017 to  24.5 million, meaning that about 33 million of them will be in use.

The most important statistic from VoiceLabs: Only 11 percent of consumers who already own a Google Home or Amazon Echo will also buy a competing device. They’re brand loyal. And apparently, they’d rather fight than switch.

As always, please send news tips to Khari Johnson and guest post submissions to John Brandon. Be sure to visit our Bots Channel for comprehensive news on bots and messaging.

Thanks for reading,

-Blaise Zerega

Editor in Chief

P.S. Please enjoy this video of the Intelligent User Engagement panel from the IBM Watson Developer Conference, featuring Slack, Uber, and others.

From the Bots Channel

A lamp coming soon from General Electric that incorporates Amazon's Alexa.

Amazon expands Alexa Voice Service to Germany and the U.K.

The Alexa Voice Service (AVS), which allows device manufacturers to install Alexa inside their products, is now available in the United Kingdom and Germany, Amazon announced today. Amazon first made the AVS available to developers in the U.S. in June 2015. Going beyond smart speakers like the Amazon Echo, it has been used to place Alexa […]

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The face of Kuri

Bringing bots to life with AI

Any video gamer knows how boring NPCs (non-playable characters) in digital worlds are. Their behavior is simple and predictable and their words entirely scripted by a staff of writers. This makes them uninteresting opponents and unsatisfying companions. We’re far more likely to emotionally attach to lifelike characters, like the emo robot sidekicks in the Star […]

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Alexa and Google Assistant-enabled devices

5 predictions about Alexa, Cortana, and other AI assistants

The 2017 Voice Report is a look ahead at what to expect in the coming chat wars between companies like Microsoft, Samsung, Google, and Amazon. It’s also a survey of Google Assistant and Alexa users, and a look into why some startups make more successful Alexa skills than others. The report was put together by VoiceLabs, […]

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What mobile ads will work at the Super Bowl?

What would the Super Bowl look like with AI referees?

It’s late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI. The Falcons are facing third and goal on the Patriots’ five-yard line. Matt Ryan takes the snap and hands off to Devonta Freeman, already running hard at the goal line. Then, with a crunch audible to the topmost rows of NRG Stadium, Freeman is brought […]

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The Roll bot attracted 1 million users -- without trying.

Screw the Turing test — chatbots don’t need to act human

The minute you mention chatbot technology, someone will inevitably bring up the Turing test. Created by Alan Turing in 1950, the test judges a machine’s capability to demonstrate intelligent behavior that’s indistinguishable from speaking to a human. There’s even an annual competition that started in 1990 called the Loebner Prize that judges chatbots on how humanlike […]

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Twitter logoHow to build your own Twitter bot in less than 30 minutes

Twitter bots can do a heck of a lot more than just spam trending hashtags and relentlessly follow users. Take the Twisst ISS alerts bot, which sends you a direct message whenever the International Space Station will be visible at your location. Or public service bots like the Earthquake Robot, which tweets about any earthquake […]

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Beyond VB

IBM Gives Watson a New Challenge: Your Tax Return

In its first steps toward commercialization, IBM’s Watson took on grand, science-laden challenges like helping doctors diagnose cancer. But that is changing as IBM strives to build its artificial intelligence technology into a multibillion-dollar business. (via The New York Times)

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5 Brands Using Facebook Messenger Bots to Level Up Their Social Media Strategies

It seems easy to jump on a new trend if you’re a B2C company with an unlimited budget like Coca-Cola, or a tech-savvy web personality with a large following. But most companies feel too burdened by newness, regulations and potential security issues to embrace new tools like chatbots. (via Social Media Today)

Read the full story

 

Chatbots will change the way consumers interact with brands forever

A chatbot is a service, powered by rules and sometimes machine learning or artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface. The service could be any number of things, ranging from functional to fun, and it could live in any major chat product (Facebook Messenger, Line, Viber, Slack etc.). (via Campaign)

Read the full story

 

Silicon Valley Hedge Fund Takes On Wall Street With AI Trader

Babak Hodjat believes humans are too emotional for the stock market. So he’s started one of the first hedge funds run completely by artificial intelligence. (via Bloomberg)

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