Facebook is Reportedly Releasing an Echo Show Competitor This Year

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. Allegedly called Portal, the device will feature a screen and speaker and be built around an artificial intelligence interface much like Amazon’s offering and even some new installments from other OEMs. It’ll reportedly cost $499 and launch later this year.

Facebook is about to jump into the consumer hardware business in a big way with a video chat device named “Portal,” which will put it in direct competition with Amazon’s hugely popular line of Echo voice-controlled devices, Cheddar has learned.

Portal will essentially work like an Echo Show would in which you can ask it questions, check the weather, and get news all with your voice. You’ll be able to watch content on it and even video call your friends and family, likely over a service similar to Messenger. That latter feature is what Facebook really wants this device to focus on: a way for close ones to interact with each other over video calling, hence the Portal name. Of course, that won’t be its only function as mentioned earlier.

Cheddar also notes services like Spotify and Netflix could also make their way to this device, although that remains unconfirmed.

Another unconfirmed piece of data worth mentioning is CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s stance. I’m sure it would be nice to see some type of profit to Facebook, but Zuckerberg has apparently told employees he doesn’t care if they make money with this thing. Rather, he “wants it to change user behavior and encourage phone-like usage among owners.” So essentially, this will be a first step in an evolution Facebook wishes to dictate.

And let’s face it, Facebook will probably not make any money on this thing anyway. If it costs $499, there’s little reason not to spend twice as much for an Echo Show. in fact, Lenovo’s offerings (unveiled during CES 2018) will cost significantly lower than that. Therefore, I just don’t see many consumers actually buying into Facebook’s first jab at a smart home hub.

That being said, it’s still too early to judge how well the Portal will do on the market. It’ll reportedly go on sale later this year and may even see the light of day at Facebook’s F8 conference in the next few months. We’ll keep you posted.