When Portal's initial buzz of finally subsides, the timing will be remembered the most. For a company like Facebook, it's never been a good time to launch a product like Portal, but in terms of looks, 2018 would probably have been a write-down.
Our following headline: "Facebook, are you kidding? "Seems to sum up the fallout.
But the company continued to launch its own hardware product with the intention of launching its own hardware, and there are certainly worse motives than the target of the Companion This is a promising video chat technology, and the Facebook technology stack delivers this convincingly.
Any praise the company might have received for running the product, however, quickly plunged into another crash Here's Recode with another fairly simple headline. "It turns out that Facebook could actually use data collected from its portal's in-home video device to address you with ads."
In Talking to TechCrunch this week, Facebook expert Andrew "Boz" Bosworth claims that this was the result of one Misunderstanding on the part of the company.
"I was not in the room," says Bosworth, "but what I was told was that we thought that the question was about ads being served on the portal Facebook does not show Facebook ads when another service, like YouTube or something else, uses ads and you're careful to see ads appear on the portal device. Facebook has already been running ads on the portal. "
Facebook is working on it to draw a line here to differentiate the great demand for custom microphones and a camera in consumer living rooms from the usual way of collecting data that forms the core of much of the site's monetization model.
"[T] The Thing What's new about this device is the camera and the microphone, "he explains." This is a place where we have exaggerated the safety and privacy to ensure that consumers are on the electrical […]
Facebook clearly worked on answering these questions on the internet bud before launching. Unsolicited, the company quickly listed the numerous security and privacy levels that were integrated into the stack, from encryption to a physical piece of plastic that consumers can snap onto the top of the device to serve as a lens cap.
Last In addition to announcing availability, Facebook also posted a separate post-drill-down on privacy concerns at night. Portal: Privacy and Ads contains three key points:
- Facebook does not listen, display or save the content of your portal video calls. This means that nothing you say about a portal video call is retrieved from Facebook or used for promotional purposes.
- Portal video calls are encrypted so your calls are secure.
- Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI technology that runs locally on the portal not on Facebook servers. The camera of the portal does not identify who you are.
Facebook quickly explains that despite the misunderstanding, it has not changed any approaches since we spoke before the start. Of course, this does not mean that the device does not collect data that can be used for other displays. That's what Facebook does.
"I can clearly identify the camera and microphone, as well as the content of audio or video content, and say that none of it is used to inform ads," the CEO told TechCrunch. "I can be very, very confident in making that statement."
However, he adds, "Once you get past the camera and the microphones, this device works much like other mobile devices you have , In fact, it is supported by Messenger and in other areas of Facebook. All of these features that a billion people using messengers are used to have are identical to those on the device. As a hypothetical phenomenon, Bosworth points out the potential for cross-platform ads that target video calls. Who often does this – a disguise that you would think would apply to anyone – $ 199 for a video chat device of this kind. "If you were someone who frequently uses video calls," Bosworth begins. "There may be an advertising clusters cluster for people interested in video calls, and you'd be a part of them, which is true if you've frequently used video calls on your mobile phone, or if you've frequently used video calls on Portal."
However, Facebook may have painted in a corner with it.Try to make the difference between cameras / microphones and the rest of the software stack, and there's no doubt that confidence has been undermined after months of talking to key news such as Cambridge Analytica Once this sense of trust is broken, it is a big step to ask users to suddenly buy their own hardware that they did not know was needed a few months ago.
"Certainly, the headwind we have Ensuring that consumers trust the brand, we are all familiar, and honest said we are up to the challenge, "says Bosworth. "It's good to have an extra exam. We have been through a tremendous change in the company over the last six to eight months to focus on these challenges. "
The management actually believes that the introduction of a device like Portal could actually counteract this mistrust, rather than aggravating it.
"This device is exactly what people want from Facebook," he explains. "It's a device that focuses on the closest friends and family members, the experiences, and the connections that they have with these people. On the one hand, I hear you. It's a headwind, on the other hand, that's exactly what we need. It's actually the right device that tells a story that I believe people want to hear what we're most interested in, the people who get deeper and more meaningful hashes of each other. "
 However, if Portal is ultimately a success, this is not the case because the product served to convince people that the company is focused on meaningful interactions rather than ad sales. It will be because our memories are short. This kind of concern fades away fairly quickly in the face of new products, especially in a 24-hour messaging environment where everything is always bad.
Then, the question arises as to whether portal can provide a meaningful difference to other products can force users to shop. Certainly, the company has helped drive this with ultimately low-cost products. Despite intelligent augmented reality features and some well-produced camera surveillance, Facebook really needs to differentiate this device from an echo show or a Google Home Hub.
Facebook's early goal for the product is likely to be modest. In talks before the start, the company has positioned this as a kind of learning moment. That began when the company private-launched early versions of the products in homes, and is now continuing to a certain extent with the device in the world. If the company is under pressure, it would not offer anything concrete.
"This is the first hardware from Facebook," says Bosworth. "It's early, I do not know we have certain sales expectations, because we expect to have a market big enough that we can learn and iterate and get better."
This is true, certainly – And to my biggest complaints with the device Apart from the video chat features mentioned above, the portal does not feel like a very sophisticated device.There is an extremely limited selection of preinstalled apps and not an App Store the short films offered by Facebook is a big event for the time being.
During my review of the portal + I could not shake the feeling that the product would have worked well – or perhaps even better – as a supplement or co-production with Amazon, but this partnership is limited only to the inclusion of Alexa on the device, in fact, the company confirms that we are in the next years with other hardware devices can count.
Facebook says Facebook is open to a wide range of options based on consumer demand. It's something that could possibly even extend to recording on the device, a feature that could further blur the lines of camera and microphone functions on board.
"At the moment, recording on the computer is not possible," says Bosworth. "The idea that a camera with microphones might want to use people like a camera with microphones to record things. We wanted to start in a position where people felt they could understand what the device is, have a lot of trust and confidence, and bring it home. There is an obvious area where you can expand it. There are probably areas that are not obvious to us […] It is by no means fair to say that this is a kind of beta phase. We decided to ship it when we felt we had moved to the finished finished product area.
From a privacy point of view, these things always feel like a million cuts. At the moment, however, the company is not recording anything locally and has no definitive plans to do so. Given the type of years the company has had in terms of privacy protection, it's probably best to keep it that way.