- Facebook Portal
- Is this the beginning of a great friendship?
We have already talked about the presentation of a dozen smart home devices from Amazon. A couple of days ago, a review came out from a Google event, which can be safely classified as one of the most boring announcements of the year. However, the company Facebook, also trying to play in the smart home market, remained behind the scenes. In this article I want to tell you about the device itself Facebook Portal, as well as a little about how the balance of power in the market may change. After all, Google is currently competing, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. All companies are powerful, with access to virtually unlimited resources, both financial and mental.
On the one hand, all the clashes of the giants are not about us. For in Russia there is Alice from Yandex, who recently celebrated her 1 year birthday. Actually, you can expect from Alice the same thing as from children of one year old, that is, some rudiments of reason, but no more. However, translation into Russian is a matter of time. After all, no one will be involved in manual translation and coming up with commands. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, with well-chosen algorithms, can easily master any language on the planet, since, after all, any language is a set of rules and formulations. And the reason why companies are in no hurry to actively take over the world, in my opinion, is only that at the moment all users of existing smart homes are engaged in some kind of beta testing. Like, it all works pretty well, but there are bugs, so let's not rush.
If there was a competition for the most stylish name, then Facebook would certainly have won. Compare yourself: Google Home Hub, Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod. It can be seen that at least a little tried with the naming only in Amazon. But in Facebook they used the word 'Portal'. It is both sonorous and futuristic, and there is even a good game with that name.
So Facebook Portal is a tablet with a stand that has a webcam. The main task of the device is video communication.
The device has a camera that can move and track an object, that is, you walk around the kitchen, and the camera moves after you and directs the microphones in your direction. By the way, microphones are not simple, but specially trained, they are fixed on human speech and cut off unnecessary noise. In idle mode, the screen displays photos, notifications, calendar. Of course, the device can also work as a music player. Facebook reports about powerful built-in speakers for hi-fi sound.
Initially, in addition to video calls, the device can play music on Spotify itself and act as a Bluetooth speaker, supports its own video service Facebook Watch (but other providers will follow soon). Since the device is aimed at family communication, they tried to make it as simple as possible to use, so that the elderly and children can easily cope with it. The control is voice, you don't need to poke the buttons, just ask to call such and such a person who is your friend.
After scandals with data leaks, Facebook decided to play it safe and approached the security of the device in the simplest but most reliable way. There is a button on the top of the device that turns off the power supply to the microphone and camera. You can also simply cover the camera lens with a cap.
There are two versions of the device. A small 10-inch tablet for $ 200 and a large 15.6-inch device for $ 349. , /
Quite a remarkable thing for family and friendships. However, Facebook thought ahead and added Alexa support from Amazon. And this transfers the device from the category of smart video phones to a full-fledged command center for controlling a smart home. Since Alexa can control all Amazon – compatible devices and perform all actions. From calling a taxi to installing a thermostat and controlling sockets.
Is this the beginning of a great friendship?
In total, there are now 3 different types of devices on the market – Apple HomePod, Google Hub and Amazon Echo with Facebook Portal. Combined Amazon and Facebook into one, since Alexa is responsible for smart functions in both gadgets. And such a strategic alliance, by the way, is a serious claim for success, because social networks and online shopping are simply made for each other.
The situation on the market is quite interesting. For example, there is such a company as Apple, which invests the maximum amount of effort and resources to tie, one way or another, users on its infrastructure and fully control all communication – from purchase to repair. Recently, it has surfaced in the news that Apple is trying to make it so that only authorized service centers can repair MacBooks. Accordingly, a hub for a smart home from Apple – the HomePod column fully reflects the company's policy. The device can only operate in an ecosystem Apple where only select third party manufacturers are allowed. Security is a key advantage justifying such a dictate. Unlike other companies that sell user data to advertisers, Apple doesn't share anything.
In contrast Apple there is Google. Google entered this market with the goal of creating an integration between the hardware and its services. If you watched the latest presentation from Google, you may have noticed that all new products included, for example, a YouTube premium subscription. Well, in this case, I think, there is no need to tell a lot about how the company deals with the data of its users. She collects them from various sources, analyzes them and uses them to sell advertising. The company examines the contents of your inboxes, YouTube views, searches, Android smartphone work, etc. Accordingly, by purchasing Google Hub, you can be sure that the user will begin to receive certain tips and hints in advertising.
Amazon and Facebook are another story. In Amazon they decided not to lock themselves on their own hardware. The company invites everyone to take part, promising that Alexa will make friends with almost any smart thing prepared in the slightest degree. This is the idea Amazon. The company wants to be number one in the smart home market because, in fact, it sells household goods – from groceries to household appliances and TV shows. Amazon is a retailer, the company's goal is to sell things, not communicate. And this is a hole.
On the other hand, there is Facebook, which is about communication. And at the moment the company is looking for ways to develop, in addition to selling information about its users. For example, recently Facebook launched a dating service. And for Amazon the social network Facebook is very interesting, since it controls almost all social communication on the network – Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Isn't it a miracle to sell where people come to chat?
For Facebook, such a side partnership with Amazon is interesting because if we recall previous stories, we can conclude that the company is unable to sell only the social component. Why pay when you can go to the site for free. For example, the shell for smartphones from Facebook never took off.
The same fate can be expected for Facebook Portal. Of course, it's great when there is a separate device, but you can just go to the site or use Skype. Accordingly, the presence of Alexa turns Portal from a simple video talk into a whole central hub for a smart home and not only. Facebook, unlike Google, Apple and Amazon, has a rather vulnerable business model, since the company, in fact, does not sell anything. Yes, Facebook sells data to advertisers, but the company doesn't have any products or services for which users pay money. Recent scandals with user data leakage also cast a big shadow on the platform's reputation. And the fall in the share price showed that the market no longer intends to turn a blind eye to the shoals.
If Facebook manages to establish cooperation with Amazon, then this can become a panacea for the company.
In conclusion, I would like to say that, despite the fact that at the current time the position Facebook looks the weakest, it seems to me that the company has more potential than the same Apple, which closes in its cozy ecosystem. Apple doesn't have Google scale and doesn't have an open approach like Amazon. The power of Facebook is the 1 billion users who visit the site and the fact that the social network is open to collaboration and experimentation.