Facebook is on the brink of jumping into the consumer hardware business in a big way with its own video chat device, which will put it in direct competition with Amazon Echo Show. Dubbed Facebook Portal, the device will be the first finished hardware product from FB’s secretive lab, i.e. Building 8 (F8). It is anticipated to be officially unveiled in early May at the Company’s annual developer conference.
In accordance with the latest reports, Facebook Portal is meant to work in the home. Instead of position the device as a smart assistant like Amazon’s Echo speakers, the Silicon Valley giant aims to pitch Portal as a way for friends and families to keep in touch via video calling and other social features.
In the vein of Amazon Echo Show, Facebook Portal is intended to work indoors and will be controlled using voice commands. As per reports, Facebook’s rumored Echo Show rival called Portal will be equipped with a wide-angle lens, having the ability to recognize individual faces and associate them with their FB accounts. The social media platform has been using facial recognition for years. Recently, it has introduced new captcha test that asks users to upload a clear face photo verifying that they’re not a bot.
Facebook Portal will also offer you an easy access to major streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. The Company has recently signed far-reaching music listening deals with Universal Music Group and Sony/ATV.
With Building 8, Facebook expects to eventually vend a suite of customer products that can give a tough competition to similar offerings from Google, Apple, and Amazon. The FB team has internally referred to the video chat device with the codename ‘Aloha’ but now settled on the name Portal.
The Company is planning to put a $499 price tag on Facebook Portal but it could opt for lowering the price to further spur consumer adoption. CEO Zuckerberg has told employees that he doesn’t care if the product generates revenue but instead yearns it to revolutionize user behavior and persuade phone-like usage among owners.
Portal will be sold by Facebook via pop-up stores and online. The blue platform is expected to ship the device in the second half of 2018.
It’s not the first time when Facebook is looking to compete with Apple, Google, and Amazon in the hardware space. The Company flirted with hardware in 2013 with the HTC First, also known as Facebook Phone, which came packed with FB’s user interface. However, it was a big flop.
With Google and Amazon already having a potential customer base with their respective voice chat devices, it’ll be interesting to see whether Facebook Portal will be able to earn an elephantine user base or not.
You may also like: How to Use Facebook Profile Picture Guard Feature