Facebook delays smart speaker until October


HomePod in China
Facebook's HomePod rival could arrive in six months.
Photo: Apple

Facebook’s smart speaker will reportedly launch in October, a new report claims. The social media giant’s entry into the AI speaker market already home to Apple’s HomePod, Amazon’s Echo and Google Home was allegedly delayed several months as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

As a result, Facebook has cut its 2018 order volume by around 20 percent, although orders for 2019 will remain unchanged.

Originally planned for May

Facebook originally planned to launch its competitor product at the F8 conference in May. However, it (rightly) concluded that debuting a product that gathers data inside your home may not be the best PR move right now. Instead of ditching the plans, though, it instead simply chose to delay the launch.

A previous report claims that Facebook aims to launch not one, but two smart speakers in 2018. Both of these will reportedly boast 15-inch touch screens, similar to the Amazon Echo Show. They are set to be positioned as devices for video chat and social features.

One of the speakers, codenamed Portal, will reportedly use facial recognition to identify users via a wide-angle lens, as well as employing voice commands. Whether this will remain the plan given the recent blowback against Facebook remains to be seen.

When news of the delay was originally reported, a Facebook spokesperson told Bloomberg that the speaker was being held back by Facebook, “to ensure that they make the right trade-offs regarding user data.”

A bad idea for Facebook?

While it makes sense that Facebook would want to be part of the lucrative smart speaker market, we can’t help but think this is a bad idea. With plenty of questions already existing about just how closely Facebook’s app watches you, a smart speaker for the home sounds like the start of a PR nightmare.

Do you own a smart speaker? Would you buy a Facebook one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Digitimes