Oct 8, 2018

Facebook launches 2 home video chat devices


Facebook is launching two in-home video chat hardware devices, the company announced Monday.

Why it matters: The devices will help Facebook collect more data about how people use technology services, like voice assistants and long-form video, in their home.

The details: The company is announcing two new devices: Portal ($199 USD) and Portal+ ($349 USD). Portal+ is bigger.

  • The devices, which include Amazon Alexa voice assistant technology, let users connect to a plethora of media apps, like Spotify, Pandora and iHeartMusic, as as well as Facebook's TV-competitor app, Facebook Watch.
  • It also includes voice calling and a smart camera that automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view.

Between the lines: While the company has dabbled with some hardware products, like its Oculus Rift VR headset, it typically makes most of its money from software, mostly advertising. This opens up a new revenue stream for the company — hardware sales — but it will also increase engagement to Facebook-owned apps, which are linked to the devices.

The bigger picture: Facebook is facing multiple investigations in the U.S. and around the world for its data-based practices. Facebook says the Portal gives users tools to control privacy settings. Facebook says it doesn’t "listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls."

Go deeper

The polarized pandemic election

A Trump supporter protests Pennsylvania's stay-at-home order, during a May 15 rally outside the Capitol in Harrisburg. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

President Trump is going all-in on pushing for a rapid, robust return to normal life, creating a visual, visceral contrast with Joe Biden and other Democrats who are more reticent to rip the masks off.

The state of play: Business friends have been urging Trump from the beginning to keep the lockdowns short. He's listening more and more.

Tech's long hot summer of antitrust

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Google, Facebook and other tech giants face a summer of regulatory grilling as long-running investigations into potential anticompetitive practices likely come to a head.

The big picture: Probes into the power of Big Tech launched by federal and state authorities are turning a year old, and observers expect action in the form of formal lawsuits and potentially damning reports — even as the companies have become a lifeline for Americans during the pandemic lockdown.

Palantir CEO hits Silicon Valley "monoculture," may leave California

Palantir is "getting close" to a decision on whether to move the company out of California, CEO Alex Karp said in an interview for "Axios on HBO."

The state of play: "We haven't picked a place yet, but it's going to be closer to the East Coast than the West Coast. ... If I had to guess, I would guess something like Colorado."