Facebook is reportedly planning to delay the launch of its new smart speakers. As reported by Bloomberg citing "sources familiar with the matter," due to the current scandal surrounding the company, it has decided to delay the launch until sometime later this year. Had the controversy around Cambridge Analytica not happened, we could have seen the new products showcased at the company’s developer conference in May.
According to the report, the initial plan was to preview the new hardware at Facebook’s developer conference and then launch the products in the autumn to the wider public. Instead, Facebook is going to conduct a “deeper review” to make sure they’ve got everything right on the user data front. The social media giant is supposedly working on a AI speaker with a digital assistant as well as a device with video chat capabilities – which will be the company's answer to the Amazon Echo Show.
It's not exactly clear what digital assistant will ship on the new devices. In January, the social media giant killed off Facebook M, its digital assistant that lived within Messenger. The small pool of users who had access to Facebook M can only access 'M suggestions' now. There's no doubt, however, that Facebook will take what it learned with M and use it to build its new assistant.
Facebook tested the new devices among a focus-group, according to the sources, and that those involved were concerned about using a Facebook-branded device being in their living rooms. Facebook wouldn’t be the first to receive this criticism, though. Many people who haven’t jumped on the smart speaker bandwagon have avoided the technology due to concerns that these types of devices are always listening.
Another source of concern about smart speakers and digital assistants are hidden vulnerabilities within them; as these devices are intended to be connected up to everything from your lights to your doors, users are concerned that hackers could cause physical damage or hack the devices for other nefarious purposes such as committing burglaries.
Facebook is already late to the smart speaker game so it’s unclear whether it will push the device launch much further back than autumn. If it did unveil the devices around September, it would set the firm up nicely to have the devices selling in time for the Holiday period.
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