Facebook Portal Smart Display to be Announced this Week, Will Have Alexa Onboard
Chedder is reporting that the Facebook Portal smart display will be announced later this week and will have Amazon Alexa voice assistant access. Facebook is planning on releasing two devices with the larger screen size costing around $400 and the smaller version $300.
This report follows Chedder reporter Alex Heath’s scoop last week that Facebook Portal will include the Alexa voice assistant. He characterizes Portal as an “iPad on a stick” with a wide-angle lens camera that will track people and their sound as they move about a room. When asked his thinking on Facebook’s decision to use Alexa and not its own voice assistant Heath commented:
“I’m not sure if it says more about Facebook or Amazon to be honest. It is really interesting that Alexa will be on this device and that is simply because Facebook doesn’t have the technical chops to have a voice assistant like Alexa right now. They just don’t have the tech there. I’m sure one day they will and will want to put that on their devices because there are more Portals coming by the way. There are more in development. I think what Amazon is doing is really smart. They are getting everywhere. They want to be the cross-platform, platform agnostics voice assistant layer…I guess Amazon doesn’t care. Even thought it is Facebook and it is a potential competitor, Amazon cares about people using Alexa and potentially ordering on Amazon.”
The Rise of the Smart Displays
Three months ago, there was only one smart display available: Amazon’s Echo Show. Since then, we have seen the Lenovo Smart Display and the JBL Link View launch, both supporting Google Assistant. Google is expected to announce its own smart display during its upcoming October 9th hardware event and Amazon debuted the Echo Show 2nd Gen last week. Now we have news that Facebook is finally ready to take the plunge after months of delay. The biggest news here is that Facebook will embed Alexa and not its own voice assistant. That is a big win for Amazon.
This may also be a win for the category. The tepid adoption of smart displays last year may have been the result of only a single device being in market. Amazon already had momentum around its Echo smart speakers when Google Home launched in 2016. However, Echo sales immediately accelerated as more focus was brought to the product segment. The same could happen with smart displays now that we have Amazon joined by at least four other device makers, all with large marketing budgets and at least three of them with established product distribution networks.