Facebook to reportedly release an Echo Show competitor with facial recognition
Jan 10 2018 by Michele Stevens
Reports about the video chat device came out past year, but more details - like the name "Portal" - have now been revealed.
According to a new report out of Cheddar, Facebook is gearing up to introduce a new device that will directly compete with Amazon's Echo Show. Cheddar's sources say Facebook is planning to unveil the device in early May and begin selling it via pop-up stores and online in the second half of the year.
Like the Echo Show, revealed last May, Portal features a screen that can be used to hold video calls and stream music and video. The Facebook device will include a wide-angle camera that will be able to recognize faces and match them with their Facebook account.
"Facebook employees have internally referred to the video chat device with the codename "Aloha" but recently settled on the name Portal-an indication that product development has progressed", the report notes.
Facebook's also secured licensing deals with Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group to build out a music streaming service for Portal, and plans to support third-party services like Netflix and Spotify.
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment for this story.
Facebook is now planning to price Portal at $499 but could decide to lower the price to further spur consumer adoption. 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. Compared to the Echo Show, Portal will be much more costly. Expectations for the home product are running high, and its performance will shape how many more physical products we might expect to see from Facebook in the future.
Portal would be the first product to launch from Facebook's secretive consumer hardware lab, Building 8, which has suffered a rocky start since its opening in April 2016.