Facebook is about to launch its own range of smart speakers, according to multiple reports.
The social media giant is said to be is working on two devices, codenamed Aloha and Fiona, which, according to Digitimes, could be ready for sale by July at the latest. Both devices will have 15-inch touchscreens and will be marketed as hubs for family and friends to stay in touch with video chats and social features.
According to Digitimes, The Aloha model will be marketed under the Portal brand and is the more sophisticated of the two devices, offering voice and facial recognition technology and a wide-angle front-facing camera to verify the user’s identity for logging into Facebook.
It’s hard to argue with Facebook’s strategy to sell hardware to its 2 billion-plus monthly users, though it’ll face stiff competition from the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple, which have already entered the smart speaker race.
Facebook has been gearing up for its own assault on the streaming music market. Though details of its offering remain closely guarded.
Facebook last year struck a multi-year agreement with Universal Music Group that will see the music giant license its catalog across Facebook’s various platforms, starting with music videos. Facebook told The Verge at the time that it planned to work with UMG to develop “music-based products,” though it’s remains clear what they would be. Earlier this year, music publishing leader Sony/ATV signed a similar licensing agreement with Facebook that will allow the latter’s users to upload and share videos from the music publishing company’s catalog.
Presumably, Facebook could follow Amazon’s lead and offer a reduced-price subscription for a monthly music subscription for owners of its smart speaker, somewhere in the region of the $5 fee Amazon charges.
With its major-label content deals in place, and a range of smart speakers ready to rollout, Facebook is expected to construct an ecosystem for video consumer devices in the years ahead.