In October, Facebook announced Portal, a Facebook Messenger video chat / display with Alexa built in. I missed the Alexa part and was a bit frustrated with their release of a device. You can check out my faux pas at A Portal to Nowhere. A few months in, I’m curious how this device is holding up.
At least based on Amazon reviews, it’s doing OK. It’s not nearly at the success level of Echo Show 2nd Generation, but it’s holding its own. The reviews are almost 80% positive (4 or 5 stars) and the main reason for the low ratings are trouble with setup. Fail fast doesn’t just apply to startups… “put in right back in the box” is a common phrase of the negative reviews.
If one regularly uses Facebook Messenger between family, then this might be a great device. Apple could have built something similar that was FaceTime-based and maybe even opened it up to other video chat platforms (“what a twist!”).
The Echo Show 2nd Generation is an order of magnitude more successful from a reviews perspective… garnering 10x more reviews in a similar period, and slightly more favourable. Of course, we don’t know if a Facebook device sold on Amazon might attract a more negative reviewing crowd compared to those buying an Amazon device through Amazon.
What I love about Portal (having never used it) is how voice is spreading to new form factors and how the edges of of platforms are blending together. Microsoft has made friends with Amazon, Facebook with Amazon…
“And they turned their swords into ploughshares…”