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Facebook wouldn’t reveal the margin it will earn selling the device, but when asked if it’s a loss leader for driving ad views on its social network, Camargo tells me “I wouldn’t say that’s the case”, though boosting engagement is surely an incentive.
Portal could earn money from enterprise clients, though, as Facebook is already internally testing a version of its Workplace team collaboration’s video chat feature on Portal.
They’ve got “Hey Portal” voice navigation, Facebook Messenger for video calls with family, Spotify and Pandora for Bluetooth and voice-activated music, Facebook Watch and soon more video content providers, augmented reality Story Time for kids, a third-party app platform, and it becomes a smart photo/video frame when idle.
Once a video call starts, the 140-degree, 12-megapixel Smart Lens snaps into action, automatically zooming and recentering so your face stays on camera even if you’re bustling around the kitchen or playing with the kids.
You can use any Alexa to summon Spotify, Pandora, or i Heart Radio, and even opt to have songs play simultaneously on yours and someone else’s Portal for a decentralized dance party.
Portal also acts as a Bluetooth speaker, and Spotify Connect lets it power multi-room audio.
Kids and grandparents won’t always have much to talk about, and toddlers aren’t great conversation partners, so this could extend Portal calls beyond a quick hello.
Beyond chat, Facebook has built a grip of third-party experiences into Portal.