Meta Platforms is reportedly planning to make its smart screen device, Portal, an enterprise-only product that can be used by businesses for conference calls, a person familiar with the matter told The Verge. This was first reported by the Information on June 9, which also said that Meta is scaling back its plans to launch AR glasses, codenamed Project Nazare. The reason for the scale back is the mounting investor concerns over the huge investments made in hardware projects including Portal without any strong returns.
Though launched first in 2018, the Portal series of smart screen devices haven’t seen the same traction as its key competitors Amazon's Echo Show and Google Nest Hub. Portal was also available in fewer markets. After the Covid-19 outbreak and people staying at home, its sales had started to pick up. Meta shipped 200,000 units in the first quarter of 2020 in North America, however, its share of the total shipment in the smart speaker and smart screen market remained under 2%, as compared to Amazon’s 45% and Google’s 30%, as per Strategy Analytics data.
According to IDC, Meta shipped 800,000 units of Portal in 2021, accounting for a meager 1% of the market.
Portal devices also cost $100 more than Google Nest Hub and Amazon Echo Show. Although, they have all the features these two have. The latest Portal Plus devices start at $350, offer a 14-inch screen, support Alexa, and work with most of the popular video conferencing apps such as Zoom, Webex, Teams, and BlueJeans.
Though Meta has not officially confirmed this shift in strategy for Portal devices, it can be seen as the last effort to save the segment, given the fact that it already supports top video conferencing apps and has a larger screen too. It can be used as a secondary screen in offices allowing users to attend video meetings on it while keeping their laptop free for other tasks.