Mobile Commerce Daily: Yahoo discontinues Radar chatbot, providing important warning to other brands

By Danny Parisi

After only a few months, Yahoo is discontinuing Radar, its chatbot-like travel assistant, providing the first inkling of doubt in the otherwise promising rise of chatbots as a commercial interface.

The chatbot was launched this summer and aimed to compete with other travel-assistant programs through messaging. At the beginning of this month, Yahoo officially discontinued its support

“In the next five years, all brands will have a chatbot,” said Jeff Malmad, managing director and head of mobile and Life+ at Mindshare North America. “And to be successful, these chatbots must provide value in the form of relevant content and immediacy.

“Right now, most bots enable you to ask a question and have it answered, in the form of ‘if this, then that.’ Unfortunately, there’s also some brands that have chat bots that don’t reply immediately, which is not a good user experience.

“But as time goes on, machine learning will enable chatbots to provide more predictive, customized experiences for consumers. It’s a big opportunity for retailers in particular – a chatbot that gets to know your tastes and styles, and can make proactive recommendations about clothing you may like to wear, a product that you want for your home, etc.”

While messaging has taken off as a popular form of mobile interaction, and chatbots from a variety of brands have sprung up on all the major platforms, one chatbot is saying farewell.

Yahoo’s Radar is now defunct. The chatbot was introduced this summer as a way to help consumers plan trips and book flights.

Unlike most other chatbots, which are housed on popular messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Viber, Radar was its own app, a fact that may have contributed to its lack of popularity.

To read the rest of Malmad’s remarks, including his insights on chatbot scale, click here.