Meta is killing off its Portal video-calling devices for consumers
The company is pivoting to businessesBy Rob Thubron
What just happened? Facebook's (now Meta's) Portal video calling/smart screen devices haven't exactly been a revelation for the industry since they first arrived four years ago. Unimpressive sales and middling reviews haven't stopped the company from releasing new variants, but not anymore---at least for consumers.
Facebook released the first Portal and Portal+ in 2018 to take on Amazon's incredibly popular Echo Show. There were a lot of eyebrows raised at the launch of something that could potentially spy on users at a time when Facebook was still facing backlash from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, despite the social media giant's promise that Portal offered plenty of privacy features.
Reviewers weren't overly impressed with Portal, and the news that some Facebook staff were leaving 5-star reviews on Amazon did little to help its cause. Nevertheless, Facebook, now Meta, continued to expand the family with the 14-inch Portal+ and Portal Go last year.
Now, however, The Information reports that Meta has called time on its consumer Portal range and will discontinue the line while promising long-term support for existing customers.
Portal isn't being killed off entirely as Meta is now focusing on the devices' business applications; they saw a slight increase in sales during the pandemic as companies used them to keep in touch with remote employees.
According to IDC, 600,000 Portal devices were sold in 2020 and 800,000 units went in 2021. The latter figure accounts for just 1% of the global smart speaker and display market.
There are currently four Portals on Meta's website: the $99 Portal TV for connecting to TVs; the $179 standard 10-inch Portal; the $199 Portal Go; and the 14-inch Portal Plus, which costs $349.
Portal's consumer line joins Meta's dual-camera smartwatch in being abandoned by the company, the result of cutbacks in the Reality Labs division responsible for its hardware and metaverse projects.