Facebook is rumored to be ready to jump into the hardware business with Portal, another device that will look to challenge the Amazon Echo Show.
The report on Facebook Portal comes just after Google unveiled at CES 2018 its Smart Display platform, which will also create competitors to Amazon's Alexa-powered smart speaker with a screen.
Facebook Portal: Here's What It Will Do
In August 2017, rumors swirled that Facebook will release a video chat device and smart speaker as its first hardware product. A few months later, the rumors have resurfaced, with even more details on what is said to be named the Facebook Portal.
The name of the product was reported by Cheddar, which also claimed that the Facebook Portal will be formally announced in May at the social network's annual F8 developer conference.
According to Cheddar's sources, while the Facebook Portal will be an Amazon Echo Show competitor, it will be positioned differently. While the Amazon Echo Show showcases the capabilities of Alexa as a digital assistant, the Facebook Portal will be pitched as a communications device that will use video chat and other social features to keep friends and family connected.
Like the Amazon Echo Show, the Facebook Portal will accept voice commands and is designed to be an indoors device. Facebook is also planning to allow the device to stream third-party services such as Netflix and Spotify, though access to YouTube might be questionable considering the Google-Amazon feud.
One interesting feature that the Facebook Portal will have is facial recognition through a wide-angle lens. The device will be able to recognize faces and associate people to their respective Facebook accounts, which may be an amazing feature for some but a creepy one for those who are concerned about their privacy.
Will Facebook Portal Succeed Against Amazon Echo Show?
The Facebook Portal will be the first product out of the secretive Building 8, Facebook's consumer hardware lab that has been besieged by employee departures.
There is no information yet on the actual release date of the Facebook Portal, but things are already looking bleak for Facebook's first consumer hardware product. According to Cheddar, it will have a price tag of $499, which is more than double the $230 price tag of the Amazon Echo.
There may be more to the Facebook Portal to justify its steep price. However, if it will be positioned as a communications device, it might be tough for Facebook to get families to purchase multiple units of the Facebook Portal.