It’s all about the screen: Facebook’s Echo Show rival has a possible name and price

Facebook is entering the world of hardware manufacture with an Amazon Echo Show rival called Portal. That’s if anonymous sources close to the project are to be believed.

Speaking to Cheddar, sources claimed that Facebook Portal will be a chat device with a screen so that users can stay connected with their family and friends using video chat and “other social features”. 

It is interesting that this information has come to light during CES 2018, when a number of Google Assistant-powered smart speakers with screens have been introduced to the market. Now, it’s not only the Echo Show (and let’s not forget the Echo Spot) that Portal will have to go up against, but a whole range of smart speakers from third-party manufacturers like with the JBL Link View.

According to the sources, Portal won’t be a traditional smart speaker, and that’s not totally surprising given that Facebook – for the time being – doesn’t have a voice assistant like Alexa or Cortana that it could use in a ‘traditional’ smart speaker. 

Looking through the Portal

That doesn’t mean that the possibility of controlling your smart home is completely out of the question though. This is purely speculation, but looking at the fact that companies like Netatmo are starting to use Facebook Messenger to control smart home products, it’s not beyond the realm of reason to think that Portal could have some home hub capabilities.

We’d also be very surprised if that screen ended up only being used for social activities, too. Given Facebook’s foray into video content with Watch, we’re expecting this content to find a home on Portal as well.

When we first heard the rumors about this device, it seemed like we were going to see it early 2018. What’s looking more likely now is that it’s going to be officially announced in May, with a release later in the year. And the price? $499. Ouch.

According to those anonymous sources: “CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told employees that he doesn’t care if the device generates profit but rather wants it to change user behavior and encourage phone-like usage among owners.”

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Andrew London

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