With most of the news coming out of CES 2018 in Las Vegas centered around virtual assistants embedded in smart speakers and even smart appliances, is it any wonder that Facebook fancies a slice of the pie? The social media giant is reported to be readying a smart display called Portal that will compete directly with Amazon’s Echo Show and the smart displays from Lenovo, JBL, Sony, and LG featuring Google Assistant.
According to Cheddar, Facebook’s Portal will be pitched more as a device for video chat as opposed to being a smart assistant, allowing friends and family to stay connected via social media. Equipped with a wide-angle lens and controllable via voice commands, the Portal will be able to recognize people and associate them with their Facebook accounts. Facebook is said to be planning to announce Portal in May with shipping of the device to begin in the second half of 2018.
Much like everyone else’s smart display products, Facebook’s Portal will be able to stream Spotify, Netflix, and the social media giant has also signed agreements with Sony/ATV and the Universal Music Group.
Facebook is believed to be planning on selling the Portal for $499 via pop-ups and online stores. $499 seems plenty expensive when you consider that Amazon’s Echo Show costs just $230, and the soon to be released Lenovo Smart Display will start from $199 but Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has apparently told employees that he doesn’t care if the Portal generates a profit, instead preferring it to change user habits. Basically, it seems that he just wants it in people’s homes to ward off competitors, although a launch in the second half of 2018 could put the Portal too far behind the competition to make any real impact.
Are you looking forward to getting your hands on a Facebook portal? Or is it just a me-too device that will arrive at the party when everyone has already paired off?