In what seems like a way to get in front of the Pixel event, Facebook announced yesterday its long awaited hardware product. I’ll forgive them for announcing a new product on Canadian Thanksgiving (and a slower day in the US because of Columbus Day).
From the looks of it, Portal / Portal+ seem to be a Facebook Messenger device. The use case is someone who uses Messenger often from a stationary spot. The smaller device looks a lot like the Google Home Hub, which is perhaps why Facebook wanted to come out with it earlier.
For a first release of a hardware product, Facebooks announcement registers a “meh”. After so long and so many speculations, consumers expect much more. The video chat tablet with privacy cover is not a new invention by any means. Nucleus made this popular more than three years ago. Amazon with the Show was out over two years ago. Google had already been rumoured to be releasing the Home Hub last month. This reminds me of the dedicated Twitter device from Peek:
Facebook Messenger is solid for messaging. However, it’s great on mobile and desktop, and not much place else. If it could be integrated into other hardware, that would have been a big win. Facebook, riddled with trust issues from the election, isn’t the best candidate to put forward home-based hardware. Journalists have been ripping Facebook apart for the audacity to do this.
I hope that Facebook is able to evolve the Portal beyond this. In any case, I like the name. Portal is was we call our site for changing user settings on the Ubi (portal.theubi.com).