The rumors are true. Facebook just launched its first hardware device: Portal
Portal looks a bit like Amazon's Echo Show
, but with a focus on helping you connect with people (as you might expect from the social network).
“Connecting through Portal feels like being together in the same room, even when you’re far apart. And Portal makes it easier to connect more regularly with the most important people in your life.”
The device sits in your kitchen, living room, or bedside. Use it to video chat your long-distance boo, family back home, or start a Houseparty-like group call with your buddies using its smart camera. Unlike other video chat apps you might use on your mobile, Portal is activated with your voice, hands-free.
While much of Facebook's marketing have fixated on video chatting, its audio/voice functionality might be the real killer app. As audio and voice eats into our screen time, Facebook needs a voice play. Other members of the FAANG already have theirs (except for Netflix... that we know of). Amazon has spread Alexa everywhere, integrated into all Echo devices and even their new microwave
. Apple has Siri and AirPods. Google continues to roll out different variations of Google Home, including an adorable “donut”
Funny note: because Facebook hasn't launched their own assistant yet, the Portal is powered by Alexa. Another win for Jeff Bezos. 😮
This is why Facebook Portal is so important for them. However, the device has been met with skepticism:
“Most of us already own more convenient, portable video calling devices. They’re called smartphones. Quality not as great, but will do the job for most people.”
– Kurt Wagner
“You can’t watch YouTube; there’s no web browser; WhatsApp and Instagram are nowhere to be found; and you can’t send or receive normal Facebook messages, even if they’re video recordings. If you buy the Portal, you have to really want to video chat with other people on Facebook, and do so from one room in your home, on something other than the phone or laptop or tablet that you likely already have.”
– Jacob Kastrenakes
Less than two weeks ago the company announced 50M accounts were compromised
amid ongoing concerns about user privacy. It's also rare to see a software-first company successfully expand into hardware. Facebook's smaller archenemy, Snap, attempted this with Spectacles which resulted in a $40M write-off in 2017 (although v2 is looking fresh
Are you going to buy a $199 Portal? Add your thoughts in the discussion