Facebook (FB - Free Report) recently made available its first hardware device, Portal, which was delayed from May this year.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered Portal is a voice-controlled device with features like smart camera, speaker, digital assistant and most importantly, video calling.
The hands-free video call feature allows users (up to seven people) to communicate with their Facebook and Messenger friends. The smart camera tracks movement and adjusts camera focus as users move around the place. Additionally, the speaker minimizes the background noise, thereby eliminating the issue of proximity.
Notably, Portal, which comes in two variants, Portal (costs $199) and Portal+ (costs $349), is available for pre-order in the United States. Shipping for both devices is likely to begin in November.
Portal to Boost Facebook’s Competitive Position
Notably, the smart speaker market is expected to grow from 61.1 million users in 2018 to 76.5 million users in 2020, per eMarketer. Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) holds the highest share in the global smart speaker market. The company shipped 4.1 million Echo devices in the last quarter, accounting for 24.5% of the total shipment.
However, Portal’s features like Story Time and video viewing is expected to help Facebook differentiate itself from dominant providers like Amazon Echo, Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google Home and Apple’s (AAPL - Free Report) HomePod.
Through Story Time, users can narrate stories and transform into the characters using Facebook’s augmented reality (AR) feature. Additionally, users can view their favorite shows on Watch and listen to music from partners like Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio. Moreover, Food Network and Newsy are available on the device with other apps to be added soon.
Further, Facebook’s Portal is incorporated into Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, giving users the flexibility to control other smart devices and perform additional tasks like ordering groceries.
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