Its now Facebook’s turn to enter the home speakers segment with its home speaker Portal. With Amazon leading the pack with its Echo range of voice assisted devices, the segment appears to be gaining traction and all major tech companies want to have a share of the pie. According to a report, Facebook is planning to make an announcement about this foray at the annual developers’ conference and physically launch the device thereafter.
Currently under development in the Building 8 Lab, which remains out of bounds for the media, the video chat device is expected to feature a 15-inch screen for display, supported by a set of microphones and may be called the “Portal”. The logging in will be facilitated through a wide-angle camera and the users’ Facebook profile and the camera will help with facial recognition. While “Portal” will also follow the users’ voice commands, there will be the additional feature to identify friends and contacts on Facebook account. Facebook is also reportedly planning to rope in Netflix and Spotify as third-party apps to provide entertainment to the users in its platform.
While all these features sound impressive, the price that Facebook is planning to sell the “Potral” device could prove to be a dampener. The likely price will be $499 which is far higher than what Amazon sells its Echo Show speakers with a 7-inch display at, $299. Most features of the 2 devices are comparable, except the screen size.
Entering the hardware business for the first time, Facebook may learn the ropes soon enough. One also has to view these details in light of that fact that there is no official confirmation from Facebook on these.
The home speaker segment, till now, has been dominated by Amazon with Google also shoring up its presence. Both are US companies and it has been the largest market for these products also. Google has 3 variants, Home, Home Mini and Home Max. Google has announced a display device also within the product range. Apple is known to be working on its HomePod and the device may be out any time soon. There are also other hardware companies like Lenovo, Sony and LG are also involved in building these AI based digital voice assistants for the big companies like Google and nothing may stop them from launching their own versions over a period.