Facebook's Portal Smart Speaker Needs to Be Priced Competitively
Technology stocks are always exciting for stock trading and investing. The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart speakers are really set to get more interesting.
The smart speaker connected home segment is currently dominated by Alphabet's Google ($GOOG, $GOOGL) and Amazon ($AMZN). But reports are emerging that Facebook ($FB) is getting a smart speaker ready too, a device for the home that can be used for chatting with your Facebook friends or streaming content from services such as Spotify and Netflix, says Motley Fool's Chris Neiger, quoting the Cheddar news site.What the Portal Is Up Against
The device is reported to be called Portal, though Facebook has not confirmed it yet. The social networking giant is expected to be waiting till May's F8 Developer Conference to launch the Portal. When Facebook enters the connected home segment with the Portal, which is expected to happen in the latter half of 2018, it has stiff competition in store because its rivals have already established themselves in this space. Facebook must offer something unique and brilliant if it must get some market space.
Just how Facebook plans to make Portal stand out from the competition is unclear. We know that the Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers are more than just voice search and music enjoyment devices, they are vital IoT ingredients. They have virtual assistants which help in various services such as ordering stuff online. They also connect with other smart devices such as thermostats which can help users adjust their home temperature with just voice commands. So how far can Facebook's Portal go?Portal's Full Potential
As of now, there's nothing to tell us whether Facebook's Portal will be equipped with its own virtual assistant or have the capability to pair up with other devices and function as an IoT facilitating device. But Neiger reports that it will be controlled in terms of voice commands such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo. It is clear that Facebook will use Portal as a way to keep people connected to Facebook services for more time. And that's what the Home and Echo do, keeping users connected to Google and Amazon services respectively.Steep Pricing Might Not Help
Facebook is expected to sell the Portal for $499, a lot steeper than the Echo Spot and Echo Show versions, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be willing to lower the price in case of weak demand. Facial recognition features are expected to be present, as the Cheddar report indicates. This feature will enable the user to connect to their Facebook account. Hence it is expected to be equipped with a screen the size of a laptop. The Echo Spot and Echo Show both feature forward-facing cameras and viewing screens for calling other Echo users, but they retail for just $130 and $230 respectively. Facebook will most likely have to lower the Portal pricing.Other Competing Products Are Emerging
Apart from IoT capabilities, there are video devices being released solely for communication and video content viewing. Neiger points out that the Lenovo's Smart Display, revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show this month, comes with 10-inch or 8-inch display and is equipped with Google Assistant. This device too is priced much lesser than the Portal, at just $250 for the 10-inch display version and $200 for the 8-inch version.
Cheddar reports that the Portal is one of many devices Facebook is planning as part of its consumer products division, Building 8, which is distinct from its Occulus division that sells virtual reality (VR) headgear. With Building 8, the social media giant intends to come up with a range of products to compete with Google, Amazon and Apple. But Facebook will need to get its pricing right in an already crowded IoT, smart speaker, and video enjoyment device segment. It plans to start shipping the Portal to consumers in the second half of 2018.
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