Facebook Pushes Smart Speaker Launch To October: Report

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Facebook has finalized its previously reported decision to delay its smart speaker launch after initially planning to announce the device at the annual F8 developer conference taking place in early May and will now be introducing the gadget in October, DigiTimes reported Monday, citing sources familiar with the matter. The mass production of the company's first artificial intelligence-powered speaker will still begin in June as was originally planned, with that development adding more credence to previous reports that the company primarily pushed back its announcement as it wanted to wait for the Cambridge Analytica scandal to blow over and not attempt entering people's homes with a smart device while it's still under significant public and regulatory scrutiny over its data privacy practices.

The speaker said to be code-named "Aloha" will feature a 15-inch screen and video calling capabilities, with Facebook reportedly planning to advertise it as the Portal and the gadget targeting the premium segment of the market with a price tag that may reach $500. Facebook's Building 8 unit is also understood to be developing a more affordable speaker code-named "Fiona" that will also have a 15-inch display, though the company is now said to be cutting down its 2018 order volume by some 20-percent, industry sources claim, adding that the firm's 2019 orders haven't been altered. All components are expected to be manufactured and assembled by Taiwan's Pegatron, with the exception being the display panels of the two devices that should be provided by LG Display.

The Portal, i.e. Aloha, is said to sport an adjustable display, though both IoT offerings should provide users with the ability to be notified when their friends and family are nearby and can take a video call, providing both sides agree to have that feature enabled. Facial recognition data and other sensitive information will be stored locally so as to make the devices more secure, as per previous reports. Facebook will hence be aiming to compete with the likes of the Google Home Max and Apple's HomePod, as well as new smart displays from Lenovo and other OEMs, at least as far as the high-end Portal is concerned, with insiders still not providing any concrete pricing details on its supposedly cheaper counterpart.

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