Facebook possibly will launch its smart speakers internationally first. The company is looking to avoid the increased scrutiny over data privacy in the US following the Cambridge Analytica breach.
An international rollout would help prevent some of that scrutiny in the US while still letting Facebook start to play catch up to companies like Google and Amazon, who have years of a head start in the smart assistant market.
Since last August 2017, Facebook has been working on a smart speaker. The tech company has two intelligent devices that would be in stores for its consumers. One is a $499 Echo Show-esque device called “Portal” with a laptop-sized 15.6-inch touchscreen, and a smaller one that would offer a speaker, that is similar to the regular Amazon Echo.
The new speakers were to launch supposedly at Facebook F8 this 2018. But, the ongoing PR issues that the company is facing increased the scrutiny in the public eye over privacy concerns meant that it probably wasn’t a good time to try to sell Facebook users on the idea of having an “Always-listening” Facebook speaker in their homes.
The smart-speakers will be powered by a voice assistant borne out of the “M” feature you may know from a Facebook messenger. M was a digital assistant that was able to take cues from your messages and prompt features like direct payment if you discussed money. M was shelved in January as a messenger assistant but lives on in other forms, like a newly touted translation feature.
One of the significant concerns with M in Messenger was the fact that there is an “always listening” system, that would be monitoring everything you say. But, according to Facebook’s VP of Messaging, David Marcus that M wasn’t harvesting your conversations to serve you adverts, but the fear is a difficult one to shake.