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Facebook Readying Video Chat Device Dubbed Portal

Facebook is gearing up to enter the hardware market with Portal, its video chat device aimed at Amazon’s Echo.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Cheddar reported that the device, which is the social media giant’s first major entrance into the hardware market, is being marketed as a way for friends and families to connect via video chat and social features, rather than a voice-controlled speaker.

A formal announcement about the device is planned for May. Facebook is reportedly looking to market Portal at a price of $499, but could go lower to spark demand.

The social media giant’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, told staff he’s not concerned about generating profit from the device, and that he is most focused on encouraging consumers to interact with Portal similar to how they would use a phone.

The device will reportedly be voice-controlled and will include a wide-angle lens that can recognize users’ faces and link them to their Facebook accounts, reported Cheddar. Portal will have the capability to access the internet, including services like Spotify and Netflix. The device will reportedly be sold at pop-up stores and online.

In August, Bloomberg reported that the video chat device was undergoing its first major hardware effort from its Building 8 research lab. This meshes with Zuckerberg’s stated mission to bring users closer together. The social media network operator created Building 8 lab in 2016 as a way to help the company develop hardware that will keep consumers embedded in Facebook and all of its related apps and services.

In March, CNBC reported that the company placed an ad looking for a GTM retail program manager, as all signs point to the social media site establishing a stronger retail presence in consumer hardware. According to CNBC, Facebook’s mysterious Building 8 division is looking for someone who “will have the responsibility of creating disruptive ground-up shopping experiences of Facebook consumer hardware.”

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