Facebook 'Portal' to Compete With Echo Show


The device, called Portal, according to Cheddar's Alex Heath, will be similar in design to the Echo Show that Amazon introduced a year ago, and the array of smart displays Google announced last night, including the Lenovo Smart Display.

Just this week, Facebook pulled back from the voice-assistant market by announcing plans to shut down M, its artificial intelligence-backed concierge service that was developed to compete with Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa.

Facebook is about to jump into the consumer hardware business in a big way with a video chat device named "Portal", which will put it in direct competition with Amazon's hugely popular line of Echo voice-controlled devices, Cheddar has learned. Compared to the Echo Show, Portal will be much more costly. CEO Mark Zuckerberg's reportedly told employees that he doesn't care if it generates a profit, but hopes that it'll "change user behavior" to encourage "phone-like usage" among owners. Whereas Amazon has an existing ecosystem-which includes Amazon Prime Video and Music-that naturally integrates into its device, Facebook intends to rely on partnerships with services like Spotify and Netflix. As Cheddar further noted, Facebook signed big music licensing deals with Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group past year, so you might be able to expect some kind of homegrown music streaming service as well. The platform has heavily invested in facial recognition over the years, and most recently rolled out a feature to notify users of photos of them even when they aren't tagged. It was a major flop.

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Thoughts on this? Do we need more devices that can interact with us?

Expect Portal to be sold by Facebook via pop-up stores and online.

When contacted by PCMag on Tuesday, Facebook declined to comment.