So far, virtual personal assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Google Now have been part of an effort to identify differences between mobile platforms like iOS and Android. According to The Information, Facebook is working on bringing virtual personal assistants to its Messenger app and the web.
Where Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft Cortana focus on productivity, Facebook’s offering nicknamed “Moneypenny” is actually a way to ask real people for help researching and buying products and services. The nickname has been taken from Miss Moneypenny M’s assistant in the James Bond series of books and movies. Moneypenny will be able to help users with other tasks, but it is not clear what those tasks could be. It is also not known when Moneypenny could launch.
“It’s also unclear what features the service will begin with and how exactly Facebook will fulfill requests,” says The Information.
For the past few months, Facebook has been engaged on converting the Messenger into a platform, which would open up the service to third-party iOS app integration and allow developers to build apps for the service. In addition, Facebook inspected the ability for users to be able to message businesses directly to receive updates and shipping confirmations about their online orders as well as the ability to inquire about free-form questions concerning orders from within the app.
It looks like that Facebook’s Moneypenny will have many things in common with services like Operator or Magic, where you just message a person about your requirements and they would find out the logistics, says the report.
On top of the cost of the goods delivered, these startups also take a service charge. However, it is not known how Facebook Messenger will charge its 700 million users for Moneypenny, or how will it actually handle the delivery itself. It is not likely to happen, however, it is not impossible, that Facebook will employ its own fleet of delivery drivers.
Facebook Messenger, which is led by former PayPal CEO David Marcus, has been making investments in converting the texting app into more of a shopping tool, although until now it has mainly been used for stuff like order updates. This could be a major new service from Facebook, and one of the only things the company charges its users for.