Facebook Likely to Launch Two Smart Speakers This July
After the roaring success of Google Home and Alexa, it looks like every major tech company wants to get on the smart speaker bandwagon. So, it comes as no surprise that Facebook is set to launch two smart speakers this summer. The smart speakers, allegedly codenamed Aloha and Fiona, are tipped to arrive with 15-inch touchscreen displays (powered by LG) and provide video chat and social features. The speakers were apparently going to be launched much earlier, but Facebook is said to have delayed the launch to July in order to improve their audio quality and make other improvements.
The Aloha model is expected to be the pricier of the lot and may be sold under the name Portal. It is speculated to come with voice and facial recognition to identify users. To assist the facial recognition part, it is likely to come with a front-facing camera with a wide-angle lens. Facebook is also rumored to have partnered with Sony and Universal Music to include some kind of music functionality on the device. It's unclear if the speakers will support popular audio streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, etc at this point.
The market has been rife with speculation about Facebook entering the smart speaker ecosystem as early as mid-2017. The market for smart speakers is relatively nascent and now is an excellent time for companies to establish their presence before it gets saturated. The two speakers, if priced competitively, could even take on Amazon's Echo Show which offers the same features for $230. It is likely that the Aloha model will cost around the same, with the lower end model retailing for less. Facebook's presence in the hardware market isn't all that great, and the smart speakers could help change that.
Now that we have that out of the way let's address the elephant in the room: privacy. Facebook has had a mediocre track record when it comes to how it handles sensitive user data. The last thing we need right now is yet another device listening in on our bedroom conversations and reporting any thought crimes to Big Brother. The tinfoil hat wearing skeptics just might be on to something this time around.