Facebook is considering launching its new smart speakers outside of the US first, according to a new report out of CNBC which credits “two people who have had discussions with the company about the devices” for the information. The report does not provide any further details on when a launch can be expected, or which of the overseas markets will be included as part of the first-wave of availability. What the report does look to confirm, however, is this decision is being made as a direct result of the controversy surrounding Facebook and user data. With the suggestion being Facebook is less comfortable with launching an always-listening speaker in the US while the issue of data privacy remain such a hot topic for the company.
The timing of this report directly coincides with the company’s F8 developer conference which is currently underway in San Jose, California. Initially, it had been expected Facebook would launch its new line of smart speakers at this event, although that has proven not to be the case during the first day of the two-day annual event. In line with previous reports that had already suggested Facebook had decided to wait until later in the year to launch the speakers - and again, due to the ongoing data privacy scandal surrounding the company. Of those other reports, one in particular has recently suggested October as the likely launch month.
It is worth noting this current reports highlights an intentional launch will include two smart speaker products, which again coincides with previous reports that have suggested “Aloha” and “Fiona” codenamed speakers were on the way. While it remains unclear what the major differences are between the two, it is expected they will be display-based devices, which not only make use of a revised version of the company's M AI assistant, but also a tight integration with some of Facebook’s main services, such as Messenger. Essentially, these will be positioned as devices key to Facebook taking on Amazon’s Alexa and Echo-related products, as well as Google’s Home line of speakers. On the topic of the AI assistant integration, this latest report suggests the “M” relation may translate to an M-named assistant, such as “Marvin.”