Facebook is reportedly working on an Echo Show rival

Reports are emerging that Facebook is working on a smart speaker to join the rapidly swelling ranks already filling our homes.

According to DigiTimes, unnamed sources from "the upstream supply chain" have confirmed that the speaker is going to be released in the first quarter of 2018. Said to be designed by Facebook’s secretive Building 8, the smart speaker will feature a 15-inch touchscreen manufactured by LG.

This screen is apparently the thing that will set Facebook’s offering apart, as it's focusing on image display rather than voice recognition functionality. This makes sense for Facebook, with its mostly visual platform both as a social media giant, and its hugely successful chat app Messenger. 

This means it will be in direct competition with Amazon’s Echo Show. It could have also been in competition with Samsung’s Bixby speaker, which was rumored to have a screen.

It's getting crowded in here

That was before plans for the Bixby speaker looked like they might have crumbled under the crushing pressure of Amazon’s stronghold on the smart speaker market. It will be interesting to see if Facebook thinks its speaker will be able to stand the pressure.

If the reports are right and we aren’t seeing it until next year, it will be entering a market with the Amazon Echo, Dot, and Show, along with Google Home, Apple’s HomePod, and Harman Kardon’s Cortana-powered speaker Invoke. And that’s before you even start considering all the third party speakers that are Alexa-enabled.

It sounds like a number of prototypes of the device have already been produced, although we haven’t seen any leaks, specs, or even patents. As we hear more about this we’ll let you know.

Via TechCrunch

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.