Meta plans to cease making consumer versions of its Portal video calling hardware and instead pivot the product line to focus on business use cases, like conference calling.
As a result, the video chat lineup will focus on business use cases now. The change in strategy, confirmed by a source familiar with the matter, comes as Meta reassesses its ambitious hardware plans against investor relations about the billions of dollars it is spending on projects that have yet to pay off financially.
The Portal line debuted in 2018 with two displays meant as reliable video calling stations. They also supported apps for activities like hearing to music on Spotify and streaming videos on the Food Network.
The displays had limited functionality, and their link to Facebook — dealing with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal — didn’t assure the safety of requesting a connected camera into your home.
New versions have been released, including the portable Portal Go, but the device never became a huge hit. Meta shipped 800,000 Portals in 2021, accounting for less than 1 percent of the global smart speaker and display market. Meta currently peddles four Portal products, from a $99 TV-connected camera to a $349 brilliant display.
Today, Facebook has revealed two new Portal video-calling devices, adding to its expanding hardware catalog and a new Portal for Business option. It aims to support SMBs leveraging video calling for enhanced collaboration and efficiency.
First off on the new devices – seeking to capitalize on the rising interest in remote work, which has already fueled increased take-up of its Portal smart home tools. In addition, Facebook is launching its next-gen Portal+, which includes a 14-inch tilting display, and Portal Go, a 10-inch, portable video calling device.
The Portal Go is the most significant shift. Essentially an iPad-sized video screen (though chunkier) connected to your Facebook contacts for video calls, the Portal Go will provide expanded use capacity for the tool, which could be popular in varying applications.
“Portal Go brings the best of Portal smart video calling to a new, portable form factor. It’s designed to let conversations move from room to room, with an integrated handle and long-lasting battery. In addition, portal Go includes a 12MP Smart Camera with an ultrawide field of view for immersive video calls. And it doubles as a portable speaker with room-filling sound to listen to your favorite music throughout your home.”
The Portal Go could be limited by the popularity of the iPad, with much of the market that you would assume might be interested in the device already having a similar option. Still, it could serve a distinct purpose in facilitating a more direct connection with family and friends, which has been a much bigger focus over the past year and a half.
It might also be a suitable companion device for those working from home, with Facebook’s auto-adjusting camera features helping to facilitate better quality video calls.
The ability to take the device anywhere could provide new opportunities for your video meetings – or at the least, enable you to change up your background without that ghostly blur of artificial overlays.