So Mini I Missed It
I’ve been critical and then forgiving of the Facebook Portal. (Read a Portal to Nowhere). I had missed initially that it had Alexa integration and thought it was coming out with its own AI assistant. The idea of a dedicated device for video conferencing is compelling. Nucleus first launched as a brand well before the Echo Show had come out.
The Portal made a cameo on Modern Family in September but maybe I missed the Mini part. Modern Family has done episodes with Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa before. Why not Portal? Portal is a conduit for Messenger, which to give credit to Facebook, is solid for video and messaging. It works well on Android and iPhone but except for families that are exclusively a Facebook Messenger household, I’m still not sure sure why one would get a dedicated device.
Facebook, Amazon, and Google all fall into this same zone. Amazon has hardware that works well for voice but the messenger service, Alexa Calling, is wonky and difficult to use for non Echo users. As well, most associate the Echo with voice first and not necessarily video calling. Google’s Hangouts are also not as popular as some of the other services.
Facebook could move in two directions that could make it unique. The first would be to allow other messaging services to work on its device. Imagine if WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) could use the device? Or Google Hangouts? Or Alexa Calling? Or Skype? Signal? TikTok? Great video quality could make a huge difference for many people. The other direction is to open up Messenger to other voice first platforms. It could work on the Echo Show, Google Home Hub (yeah right), or other devices like Samsung TV.
There’s an opportunity here for high quality video on different video applications and some additional hardware video processing could make a big difference in the interaction. If not Facebook, maybe there’s a bet to be placed for a really good camera on a plugged in Android tablet.