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Is There a Market for Facebook's Portal?

September 18, 2019 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated May 12, 2020 19:20 PM UTC

Or should it stick to what it does best?

Transcript
Welcome to Fortune Tech Debate, where we discussed the issues of the day in two minutes. Today we are talking about Facebook's newly relaunched Portal product and whether they should be getting into hardware at all. Robert, is there a market for this? So Facebook is going to fight an uphill battle here because they've got lots of privacy issues and stuff like that. But the smart display category of devices, there's no clear winner there yet. We've seen the smart speakers. There are companies, Amazon, Google, they have smart speakers that a lot of people own. But smart displays, no tech company has owned that category yet. So Facebook actually does have an opportunity here. It's a bit of a green field if they can get in and move. So the thing is that there is not a clear winner. But there are products out there already, which suggests that there just isn't a market for it. You have the Echo Show from Amazon. You have the Google Home Hub. And the fact that people aren't buying it kind of proves people don't want it. So why should Facebook come in all of a sudden with no hardware experience and suddenly be able to take over? Look, Facebook actually has some advantages over some of those other products that you mentioned, like Amazon's Echo Show. Amazon, what do they have? They're going to try and make you buy stuff from Amazon or watch Amazon Prime TV shows and things like that. Facebook, they know your social graph. And it's where a lot of people converse and have conversations. And by knowing that, that actually gives them an advantage. There's actually a utility there for Facebook. I kind of don't see that as an advantage. Honestly, the fact that Facebook knows so much about me makes me not want their product in my home at all. The last thing we need is a company that's already gotten in trouble for data collection to be in our home with a screen and a microphone, honestly. I agree. Personally, this is not a device for me. But there are demographics I see that could potentially like this-- elderly populations, who might not know how to use a phone and FaceTime people at the drop of a hat. If they had a dedicated device and, all of a sudden, hey, I'm talking to grandma, that's not so bad. That sounds good in theory. But if they're having trouble with phones, I don't know if that's exactly the demographic to now pick up a whole new product. Maybe a couple people will. I don't want to generalize. But it's not enough to really make this a big seller truthfully. That's all the time we have. Come to fortune.com for more tech debates.