Facebook may have pulled the plug on its digital assistant plan, but that does not mean it's backing out entirely from the lucrative smart device market. In fact, there are indications that the social media giant could be making a big splash this year by launching a home-based, voice-enabled device—a product that could place it squarely against rivals Amazon, Apple, and Google.
Facebook is reportedly preparing its attack on the home electronics front by launching a home video chat device later this year. Reports say that the upcoming gadget will be named Portal, a product that is similar to Amazon’s Echo Show. If reports are correct, this new device will also be competing against similar home-based devices from Google and Apple.
Facebook will launch the product by May of 2018, according to online news site Cheddar. The launch date is slated to coincide with the company’s developer conference.
Incidentally, Facebook announced early this week that it is pulling out from the digital assistant market. The company will be shutting down M, it's AI-powered concierge service that was previously positioned as a competitor to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.
Despite abandoning the digital assistant niche, Facebook is not yet giving up on the home-based smart electronics segment. To help it launch the upcoming Portal, the company is betting on its partnerships with Spotify and Netflix for content. Facebook has likewise inked a music licensing agreement with both Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group.
In addition, Facebook is marketing the upcoming product a little bit differently than existing gadgets. Portal’s thrust will be on the communication and video calls side of things. This differentiates it from the voice-assisted controls and AI capability of devices like Echo, Alexa or Siri.
While it may not be Facebook’s first venture into hardware, there are doubts that the company has what it takes to successfully launch the upcoming gadget. Back in 2013, it launched its first hardware—HTC First aka as the Facebook phone—but it was a failure in the market.
There are also concerns that the rumored Portal may not be competitively priced. Facebook plans to price the gadget at $499, which is too hefty when compared to similar products such as the Echo Show, which is currently selling for only $229.99.
At the moment, Facebook declined to comment on the issue.[Featured image via YouTube]