Home / Technology / Facebook learns that hardware is difficult

Facebook learns that hardware is difficult

Meet me on our very first Interface Live on Tuesday, October 22nd! I talk to disinformation researcher Renee DiResta. Buy tickets .

One of the first proverbs that I have heard as a tech reporter is a three-word chorus that anyone has ever said that ever wanted to do something with atoms rather than bits: Hardware Is Hard . If you make a mistake in the software, you can do a correction more or less immediately. Make a mistake with the hardware and the phones explode. In the past, a technology company typically manufactured software or but today this or has been replaced by and . After the overwhelming success of Apple with the iPhone, all other technology giants have recognized the value of software and hardware collaboration. And suddenly, companies like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, once limited to high-margin software companies, had to invest vast billions in the manufacture and sale of physical assets.

Facebook first entered these waters when it bought Oculus, a manufacturer of virtual reality hardware, in 201

4. Since then, as Salvador Rodriguez reports on CNBC today, the company has trouble gaining a foothold in the hardware markets. In 2016, a research and development lab called Building 8 was founded that made science-fiction promises technologies that would allow us to hear with our skins and type in our minds. However, building 8 was converted into a non-existent building just two years later. The only lasting contribution to Facebook's product portfolio was the video chat device portal.

Portal was launched last year for a trade press that was skeptical that consumers would welcome a camera and microphone from a company that has been hit by privacy scandals in recent years. Skepticism seems justified, reports Rodriguez:

It's unclear how the new portal products will evolve, but the first generation released in 2018 shipped just 54,000 units, according to IDC. Facebook denies this estimate, but the company has never offered its own number and has refused to do so on the second-generation portal unveiled on Tuesday.

(Another estimate is less than 300,000 units or less than 1 percent off the market.)

At the same time, it can take years for a brand to gain market share. I never had a question as to whether Facebook would build a second generation of portal devices – just how they would look upon their arrival and how the world would respond.

We found out on Wednesday. The company introduced three new versions of Portal: an 8-inch and a 10-inch version, which resemble less functional iPads, and an accessory called Portal TV, which can be connected to your TV. A major topic of reporting was still the privacy risks associated with the device. And analysts are likely to remain rather bearish on the portal in the near future, Heather Kelly reports in the Washington Post :

Portals will account for only 4 percent of smart-display shipments in 2019, says analyst at market research firm Strategy Watts Analytics. He cites high prices and privacy concerns as reasons why the smart displays are no longer in vogue.

According to Strategy Analytics, the most popular smart display in North America is Google's Nest Hub, followed by Amazon's Echo Show. It is estimated that the 2019 smart display market will reach 31 million units worldwide. (The devices are particularly popular in China, where companies like Baidu and Xiaomi are selling low-cost versions of their own.)

So why keep going?

Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, the longtime Facebook manager who now heads the hardware department, says portal is a byword for Facebook. "This product is at the heart of what Facebook does," he said Tuesday at a product demonstration I attended in San Francisco. "It connects you in a meaningful way with the people you care about most."

The way people connect is largely through video calls made with augmented reality capabilities, a camera, to be tracked with the people in the room, and other improvements. It's a lot of work for me to make video calls slightly better, but Bosworth told me portal is different.

"Video calls on the phone have always felt very transactional," he told me. "Your left hand is sacrificed to the call until you're done. [You’d think]" How can I finish this call as politely as possible? "While Portal is much more hanging around, you do not have to do anything, I find that interesting." [19659017SureIsaidbutwhynotjustbuyaniPadanduseSkypeorFaceTime?

"Not good at the moment," said Bosworth. "Set up an iPad and spend a lot of time making video calls with people who are important to you, see how pleasant it is or how annoying it is, and then do it with Portal.

"In my opinion, people are making mistakes here," he continued People just look at the functions on the box … That's not the case in this life. That lives from the experience. "

It remains to be seen how many more people will sign up for this experience than last year. In the meantime, it's clear that the story of privacy and in-home displays does not start and end with Facebook. The same day that the news was published by Portal, the Washington Post reported on how your Smart TV monitors what you see to target ads, and the Financial Times reported that your Smart TV sends market research data to Netflix and identifies personally identifiable information to Google.

The Relationship

Today in news that could influence public perception.

Rising Trend : Google and Facebook could begin to pay publishers directly for licensing their content as antitrust investigations into their allegedly monopolistic business practices progress. I accept it!

On the Rise: Twitter attempts to discredit Hong Kong protesters, who are believed to have come from China, and Facebook and YouTube . followed him.

Trending Down : Facebook is charged by a non-profit human rights organization for using its advertising machine for discrimination based on housing.


A few follow-up notes from yesterday's column about the upcoming legal department of Facebook. For one thing, I'm told that the current work name is more of a "supervisory body" than an "independent oversight body," even though that language appeared in yesterday's blog post. The board will someday be able to change its Bylines to change the name if it wants, Facebook told me.

Of greater consequence: Evelyn Douek has a good job on Lawfare in which she explores how a recent Facebook update could affect how the board ultimately makes its decisions. In particular – albeit inevitably – the new values ​​weigh the meaning of "voice" over that of "security," she writes:

Therefore, in ambiguity cases, when the magnitude of the risk of a particular language category is not necessarily clear Facebook does not – and if the Oversight Board project works, it can not – be prudent and just dump this content "just in case". This reflects a degree of risk tolerance. The Facebook part – undoubtedly praised by those who are committed to a robust marketplace of ideas. Perhaps it also reflects the changing role of these private companies, which allow so much public discourse: they are neither literally nor technically or legally a new public place, but their systemic meaning means that society has expectations of their responsibility to the public go beyond the mere satisfaction of consumers.

Douek also had a nice shine on yesterday's big charter revelation at The Atlantic . Yes, to all of this:

The Oversight Board is basically a bet from Facebook that the legitimacy of its decisions is important – and more than to prevail in any matter. Because other platforms seem doubled in the idea that they do not have to declare their decisions publicly or disobey their own rules, if that does not fit their short – term interests, Facebook seems to make another bet: accountability and legitimacy can be waived by users and regulators To convince the value of their product. Acting in bad faith would undermine Facebook's own game. The legitimacy, so hopes Facebook, is part of its value proposition.


Congress is working on a bill to create a national commission to investigate how social media can be armed . The commission will also assess how effectively tech companies protect users from harmful content. The news comes after a hearing in which members surveyed Google Facebook and Twitter for the relationship between social networks and real violence. Tony Romm and Drew Harwell at The Washington Post :

The Washington Post bill is due to be launched next week. If adopted, the Commission would be empowered-with the power to hold hearings and subpoena-to investigate the ways in which social media companies monitor the Web and recommend potential laws. It would also set up a federal social media task force to coordinate the government's response to security issues.

People with Amazon Alexa spokespersons can use their devices to campaign for 2020 presidential candidates tomorrow. However, the rules state that you can only donate to mainstream candidates, and Amazon has not yet clearly defined who falls into this category. (Makena Kelly / The Verge )

At least 75 countries, including the US and Germany, have adopted China's surveillance strategies and use facial recognition software to track citizens. Much of the software comes from the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei . (Ryan Tracy / The Wall Street Journal )

The Chinese government carried out Twitter a Russian-style disinformation campaign to discredit the demonstrators in Hong Kong. Twitter has removed 1,000 fake accounts related to this operation and has blocked another 200,000. (Raymond Zhong, Steven Lee Myers and Jin Wu / The New York Times )

Hong Kong demonstrators use cleverly tools such as telegram Twitter and live maps. The entrepreneur and social critic Maciej Cegłowski shares characteristic sharp tones. (Maciej Cegłowski / Idle Words)

London police Met cooperate with Facebook to prevent live streaming terrorist attacks around the world. The Met will provide Facebook video footage of officer training to help the company develop technologies that can detect when someone is streaming an attack live. (Municipal Police)


Amazon is tightening its control over third-party apps that many companies use to sell products on the platform . The apps have access to customer information and some violate Amazon's privacy policy by advertising customers on Facebook . Louise Matsakis report at Wired:

To streamline operations, many vendors rely on specialized business applications that access Amazon Marketplace's web service APIs and data such as sensitive customer information such as names, emails, and shipping addresses can integrate. There are tools that automate simple tasks, such as: These include printing shipping labels and apps that monitor key metrics such as user reports and sales to see if products are better viewed in Amazon's search results – the most popular way to shop on the site. While Amazon has several guidelines for using these apps and their data, the home industry that revolved around Amazon MWS was relatively decentralized. Amazon did not launch its Marketplace Appstore until May 2018.

Amazon is now picking up third-party apps that use MWS to access customer information and violate its policies. Earlier this year, the company began by emailing developers that they needed to submit information about their apps to continue using Amazon MWS. Seller forums are full of posters that ask when they'll finally be back. WIRED spoke with three Amazon developers who have received warnings or revoked their API access in recent months. With one of these solutions, Amazon sellers were able to create targeted advertising on Facebook using customer data for more than a year in violation of Amazon's privacy policy.

Instagram deals with posts related to diet products and cosmetic surgery. Under the new rules, posts promoting weight loss products or miracle products will be hidden or removed for users under the age of 18. (PA Media / The Guardian )

Instagram Influencers make money by asking fans to see their "close friends". It is unclear what Instagram itself is doing, but it shows, among other things, how little legitimate opportunities the stars of the platform have to make money there. (Kaitlyn Tiffany / The Atlantic )

Facebook puts money into AI research to teach chatbots to talk like humans. The virtual assistant M from Facebook has failed, but continues to invest heavily in the chatbot research. (Mark Sullivan / Fast Company )

After a CNBC article yesterday described Facebook's plans for the development of augmented reality eyewear, Alex Heath reports that it is indeed gives two . current projects. The company's partnership, announced by Ray-Ban, applies to glasses that resemble Snaps glasses, he writes. (Alex Heath / The Information )

A report by Data and Society raises doubts that AI can repair Deepfakes. Facebook recently advertised AI solutions for treated videos, but the report argues that this is not enough. (Zoe Schiffer / The Verge )

Youtube added a huge advertisement in the top of the TV app. There are already ads in this location on the desktop site site. For advertisers, it is considered a premium property. (Julia Alexander / The Verge )

A glimpse into the story behind Google's race for leadership in the AI ​​with interviews with CEO Sundar Pichai and AI boss Jeff Dean. The company's next big project is Quantum Computing. (Katrina Brooker / Fast Company )

Google's Parental Screening Manager, Family Link, has added new features that allow them to limit the screen time for individual apps rather than the entire device. In addition, users can extend the screen time as needed. (Sarah Perez / TechCrunch )

LinkedIn Introduced Skills Assessments: Short multiple-choice tests that help users demonstrate their computer science skills and other job-related skills Potential employers. (Ingrid Lunden / TechCrunch )

Fortnite added cross-platform voice chat – another step to make the popular free game a full-fledged social network. It is based on a similar feature developed by Houseparty the group video chat app that acquired Fortnite Epic in June. (Casey Newton / The Verge )

And finally …

They are what you eat

Caity Weaver visits the headquarters of her favorite brands in shopping malls and, among other things, chats with her Social Media Teams:

"If you break in unreasonably, you'll be roasted," he said, thinking about the recent Twitter storm over Popeye's "Spicy Chicken Sandwich." "As Zaxby's interjected, they were roasted ." Boston Market interposed in Chick-fil-A has taken a lot of L & # 39; s . "

Mr. Ayala's job is essentially to speak about Moes forever, in a brief, funny and charming manner, without stopping, one day he found an insane success this summer, when his tweet associated a memes about aliens in Area 51 with the notion of Moore's burritos, received about 2,100 retweets, but then had to tweet again.

Relatable as Hell, honestly.

Talk to us. [19659065] Send us tips, comments, questions or call us on your Facebook portal: [email protected] and zoe @ theverge.com.

Source link