Bot Bonanza: MobileBeat 2016 Name Highlights, Part 1


Bots—the cyber assistants we’ll all be using soon to make travel plans, shop, place orders at restaurants, and even answer messages, at least according to Silicon Valley pundits. VentureBeat founder Matt Marshall stated there are now more than 10,000 chatbots on Facebook. Look out, Siri. It’s not just search and calendar management anymore. This year’s MobileBeat, which took place recently in San Francisco, was all about the bots.

A number of big bots discussed at the conference don’t have proprietary names (at least not yet), such as the Pizza Hut, Whole Foods, and various other Twitter and Facebook Messenger bots. However, we found enough notable names in the burgeoning bot space to fill up two posts. Here’s Part 1, which examines a few non-“bot” names.

Mezi: It’s not brand new, but Mezi is certainly starting to make a name for itself, rolling out a new travel service at MobileBeat. According to cofounder Swapnil Shinde, the name stems from a shortening of message, with the i added to make it sound like a personal name (a là Siri). However, I didn’t get “message” from the name at all and instead went to mezzi (the plural of mezzo, “half” or “middle” in Italian) and meze (“snack” in several Mediterranean/Middle Eastern languages, and the name of many U.S. restaurants that serve that cuisine). So far the text message-based app is focused on the United States only, but these international associations are not, ahem, on message, and may require an extra marketing effort to overcome.

Haptik: Another chatbot personal assistant that isn’t brand new but is having a big presence is Haptik. According to one of the founders, the company’s name comes from haptic (which means “relating to the sense of touch”), but the team did not like how that word looked, so they changed it to the German-inflected “Haptik.” (The term Haptik was coined by a German psychologist more than a century ago to name academic research about the sense of touch in the style of “acoustics” and “optics.” The German translation of “haptic” is haptische.) Though based on a technical term that most folks won’t be familiar with, I think Haptic works well. It clearly expresses the text basis of the product while recalling “happy” and “happening” or “make it happen.”

HappyTenant: This rental experience-enhancing bot from New York was awarded runner up honorable mention in MobileBeat’s first ever international “Botathon.” It enables tenants to report problems and helps landlords schedule appointments and so forth. The name clearly expresses the product’s benefit and is easy to remember. (Interesting that they chose to emphasize the tenants’ perspective. I suppose there are more of them than landlords…or maybe the company figured tenants are usually younger folks and more likely to use a bot.)

More MobileBeat name highlights next week!