I suspect some will be both…or something else entirely.
An OS could expose a utility bot e.g. like the terminal on a PC, but a bit more autonomous and ‘generic-user’ friendly.
Really big companies may create fairly generic, pseudo-OS-level services that manifest as a bot e.g. Google NOW, Siri, an Expedia travel bot — which isn’t 100% generic but if you consider it might include flights, lodging, transportation, insurance, entertainment, social…is close enough.
A bot could be a sub-feature of an OS-level app. e.g. cc. ‘Amy’ (a bot) in a conversation to temporarily hire her to schedule a meeting. Depending on how and when you interface with it, it could be part of the OS, formally installed as a plug-in, or entirely on-demand as Amy appears to be.
A bot could simply be one of many touchpoints that combine to deliver a larger product or service. Quartz media for example recently released a bot bundled as a standalone app. They also still have a web site, regularly post to social media, and might eventually create a standalone Slack bot to reach different audiences. Not sure if each of these would count as a proper feature, or simply a distributed touchpoint. The leader in distributed touchpoints is probably Buzzfeed who are actively working towards a day where they may have no canonical presence at all.
Something else entirely?
It gets even more abstract when you think about future things. It’s 2020. You live in an apartment that includes two resident (but still virtual :-) bots: one to assist in managing smart functionality in the apartment itself (HVAC, lights, smart louvers and vents to improve energy efficiency) and one to assist with building-specific things (maintenance requests, waiting package, or impending drone-landing notifications :-). Someone, somewhere made and sold these bots (to the original developer, or building manager, or maybe you brought the home bot with you). Day to day however, would you still think of them as services — or simply call them by their name?
Enjoy this article? Subscribe to yiibu’s newsletter for a short weekly selection of found tidbits and research about our evolving relationship with technology.