Facebook May Launch an Amazon Echo Show Competitor Called Portal for $499

Smart speakers are all the rage these days, along with the digital personal assistants on board. Even Apple is jumping on the bandwagon with the upcoming HomePod. And now Facebook wants in on the fun, too.

According to a report from the online news network Cheddar, Facebook is currently working on a smart speaker that will go head-to-head with Amazon’s Echo Show, and it may be unveiled at the social network’s annual F8 developer conference. The work for the new smart speaker has been going strong for quite a while now with the Building 8 team, according to the report, and the finished product will reportedly be called Portal.

A few other details have been revealed as well. Facebook will be positioning the upcoming Portal hardware device as a communal hub of sorts, where it will showcase how easy it will be for friends and family to quick video chat with one another via the built-in microphone(s), camera, and display. The report also indicates that the Portal smart speaker will be priced at $499. The camera on the device will also be capable of recognizing a face and pairing the smart speaker with the appropriate Facebook account.

Finally, the Portal smart speaker will apparently just be the first foray into hardware for Facebook moving forward. The report indicates that the social network has plans to launch a wide variety of products in the future.

Our Take

Part of the reason why Google and Amazon have been so successful with their smart speaker initiatives is pricing, where the companies started with devices that weren’t priced so high to break the bank right out of the gate, but then gradually introduced even more powerful, more feature-rich devices that were accompanied with appropriate price tags. For instance, the Amazon Echo Show is currently priced at $229.99. The Google Home Max is one of the pricier options out there at $399. And even Apple’s HomePod is “only” $349.

Facebook pricing their Portal smart speaker at $499 just seems silly, and priced to not sell a single unit. And that doesn’t even include the conversation of whether or not households are more willing to put an always-listening Facebook smart speaker in their house, versus something from Apple, Amazon, or even Google.

Would you buy a Facebook smart speaker for $499?

[via Cheddar]