The global smart speaker market is set to receive another top player as Facebook plans to launch two smart speaker models in mid-2018. Earlier this year, rumours had it that Facebook was building a smart speaker with a 15-inch inbuilt screen and voice controls with more social networking functions called the Facebook Portal, the device is supposed to rival Amazon Echo. Facebook is set to officially move into the global smart speaker market with its smart speakers Codenamed Aloha and Fiona.
The two speakers will be fitted with 15-inch in-cell touchscreen LG Display panels, designed by Facebook's Building 8 hardware lab, while Taiwan's Pegatron is also reported to be the sole contract assembler of the devices. The touchscreens will be much bigger than the 7-inch display on the Echo Show with a "laptop-sized high-resolution" panel. Although the Aloha model will more sophisticated than the Fiona model, it will be like the Google Home and Google Home Max. The Aloha model will also be marketed under the official name Portal, the Facebook-connected video chat device.
The portal device will include facial recognition via a wide-angle lens on the front of the device and voice-controlled technology. Reports have it that Facebook has signed music licensing contracts with Sony and Universal Music to enrich the device's applications. The report stated no date of release although it noted that the speakers will be launched "in July at the latest."
The smart speaker is Facebook's initial stage product to its plan of building its own ecosystem for video consumer devices within the next five years. The smart speaker market is estimated to double over 50 million units in 2018 from 2017 according to market researcher Canalys. Facebook is set to join top players like Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and many China players including Alibaba in the already crowded smart speaker market.