- Facebook is making a hardware device called Portal that will cost $US499, according to a news report citing anonymous sources.
- Portal is a screen-based communications gadget that will compete with the Amazon Echo Show.
- Facebook reportedly plans to ship it in the second half of 2018.
Facebook plans to sell a video-chat device called “Portal” for $US499 later this year, according to a report on financial news site Cheddar citing anonymous sources.
Facebook’s hardware device, whose existence under the codename Aloha was first reported by Business Insider in August, is Facebook’s answer to the smart-speaker and smart-screen products such as the Amazon Echo Show and newly-announced products from Lenovo, Sony, and LG using Google Assistant.
But Facebook will face tough odds as it tries to catch up with the rival tech giants in a market that many believe could become the next major computing platform.
The $US499 price tag is higher than comparable products from Amazon and Google, though Cheddar’s report notes that the price could drop. And Facebook has little experience creating hardware products, besides its separate Oculus virtual reality business.
Facebook also recently killed its fledgling virtual assistant product, dubbed M, after two years of limited tests with consumers. The move begs the question as to whether Facebook’s Portal will be able to match some of the capabilities of the Amazon or Google products, which rely on sophisticated virtual assistants to respond to user queries. According to the Cheddar report, Facebook is positioning Portal as more of a communications device for users of the social network.
Portal is the first device to come out of Facebook’s troubled Building 8 hardware group, and according to Cheddar the device could be unveiled at Facebook’s upcoming developer conference this Spring.
Facebook declined to comment.
Facebook’s Portal product could also provide a perfect vehicle to take Facebook’s video ambitions to the next level. Check out Mike Shield’s BI Prime story about some of the risks and opportunities for Facebook.
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