Facebook Inc on Wednesday unveiled new models of its portal video chatting devices, the first to enter the company’s TV streaming hardware but offering a limited selection of subscription services.
The launch comes after years of user growth, data-sharing scandals and calls for a change in the way it handles content controls.
The company is already one of the world’s largest players in personal messaging, with its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram apps used by 2.4 billion people each month.
It is focusing on its new portal line on video calling, adding power to WhatsApp calls with the development of a wide-angle camera that keeps users in focus when they move around a room.
Facebook is also expanding portal sales in countries including the UK, France and Australia, where it has reduced prices to compete more closely with industry-leading smart speakers sold for less than $ 100 with Amazon and Google’s industry-leading smart speakers.
The standard models of the portal, which will be shipped on October 15, will come in $ 129 (about Rs. 9,200) and $ 179 (about Rs. 12,700) versions. The portal TV will cost $ 149 (approximately Rs. 10,600) and will be shelved on November 5.
Facebook hopes that the social nature of its products will be their selling point, allowing users to watch shows together while interacting via video call on the same screen.
“I think in a few years, if you have a smart streaming device that doesn’t have a camera that allows you to make video calls, you won’t have a competitive product,” said AR’s vice president. VR Andrew Bosworth. “I think it’s a killer feature for this type of device.”
Boseworth also spoke of privacy protections, such as local processing of smart features on devices, meaning that most users’ data would not be returned to the Facebook server.
But Portal TV offers only a few music apps and has limited options for TV programming, which means it can pose a daunting challenge in attracting accustomed customers to content-rich competitors like Apple TV, Netflix and Roku.
At a rally in San Francisco on Tuesday, the only way to stream the show was through Facebook’s Watch app. Executives say the portal will be loaded on TV when Amazon’s Prime Video app becomes available.
The company declined to say whether it had contacted other content providers, such as HBO, Hulu or Disney.
Facebook doesn’t disclose how many portals it has sold since the device was launched late last year, but hardware accounts for a small portion of the company’s total sales.
The social media giant earns less than 2 percent of its revenue from non-advertising sources.
ম Thomson Reuters 2019