Rivalling Amazon Echo and Google Home, Facebook has long been rumoured to be working on its on smart speaker. A new report now claims that the company may its smart speakers internationally first, instead of the US. The smart speakers from Facebook, which are reportedly codenamed Fiona and Aloha, were claimed to be planned for a F8 Developer conference debut that kicked off on Tuesday. However, the Menlo Park, California-headquartered company delayed the launch apparently due to the data abuse revelations that emerged recently.
Facebook is considering the launch of its smart speakers internationally before their arrival in the US to avoid early criticism from American users and politicians who have increased their focus on the social network and user privacy, reports CNBC, citing two people familiar with the development. The company is set to compete against the Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home smart speaker families. One of the Facebook smart speakers is said to come with a camera and a touchscreen to let users access Facebook Messenger and start chatting with contacts. This sounds similar to what Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot offer at the present stage. Further, CNBC’s Michelle Castillo and Jordan Novet report that Facebook is in plans to deploy its artificial intelligence (AI) powered M programme to bring a voice assistant on the upcoming smart speakers. Facebook’s voice assistant, similar to Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, is said to understand voice commands.
The social network interestingly introduced the M programme to build an AI-backed virtual assistant bot for Messenger last year but announced its shutdown in January this year. Having said that, the Mark Zuckerberg-led company announced M Translations at the F8 conference that will help Messenger users translate foreign languages. The translation model seemingly sets the stage for the international launch of the smart speakers.
As per a previous report, the launch of Facebook’s smart speakers has been pushed to October and the order volumes for 2018 have been reduced by as much as 20 percent, with mass production is scheduled to begin from June this year. This hints that we need to wait for some more time to see what Facebook has to take on Amazon Echo and Google Home. Moreover, the delay in the launch and the initial production cut could give enough time to the company to clean up its image and regain users’ confidence that it lost because of the recent public scrutiny over how it is using personal information from its social network and circulating user data to its advertising partners.