When the initial buzz of Portal finally dies down, it's the timing that will be remembered most. There's never a great time for a company like Facebook to launch a product like Portal, but as far as optics go, the whole of 2018 probably should have been a write-off.
Our followup headline, "Facebook, are you kidding ? "Seems to sum up the fallout nicely.
But the company soldiered on, intent to launch its in-house hardware product, and as its intentions can be regarded as pure, there are certainly worse motives than the goal of connecting loved ones. That's a promise video chat technology brings, and Facebook's technology stack delivers it in a compelling way.
Any praise the company might have received for the product's execution, however, quickly took a backseat to another PR dustup. Here's Recode with another fairly straightforward headline. "It turns out that Facebook could actually use data collected from its portal in-home video device to target you with ads."
In a conversation with TechCrunch this week, Facebook exec Andrew "Boz" Bosworth claims it was the result of a misunderstanding on the company's part.
"I was not in the room with that," Bosworth says, "but what I'm told was that we thought that the question was about ads being served on Portal. Right now, Facebook ads are not being served on Portal. Obviously, hvis noen annen tjeneste, som YouTube eller noe annet, bruker annonser, og du ser at du har annonser på den portal-enheten. Facebook's been serving ads on Portal. "
Facebook is working to draw a line here, looking to distinguish the big ask of putting its own microphones and a camera in consumer living rooms from the standard sort of data collection that forms the core of much of the site's monetization model.
"[T] he thing that's novel about this device is the camera and the microphone," he explains. "Det er et sted at vi har gått over bord på sikkerheten og privatlivet for at sikre at forbrukerne kan stole på at det elektriske nivå som enheten bare gjør de ting de forventer."
Facebook var tydeligvis arbejder på disse spørgsmål i det bid prior to launch. Unprompted, the company was quick to list the many levels of security and privacy baked into the stack, from encryption to an actual physical piece of plastic the consumer can snap on the top of the device to serve as a lens cap.
Last Night, alongside the announcement of availability, Facebook issued a separate post boring down on privacy concerns. Portal: Privacy and Ads details three key points:
- Facebook does not listen to, view or keep the content of your Portal video calls. This means nothing you say on a Portal video call is accessed by Facebook or used for advertising.
- Portal video calls are encrypted, so your calls are secure.
- Smart Camera and Smart Sound usage AI technology that runs locally on Portal , not on facebook servers. Portal's camera does not identify who you are.
Facebook is quick to explain that, in spite of what it considered a misunderstanding, it has not switched approaches since we spoke ahead of launch. Men det kan man ikke si, selvfølgelig, at enheten ikke vil samle data som kan brukes til å målrette andre annonser. That's what Facebook does.
"I can be quite definitive about the camera and the microphone, and content of audio or content of video and say none of those things are being used to inform ads, full stop," the executive tells TechCrunch . "I can be very, very confident when I make that statement."
However, he adds, "Once you get past the camera and the microphones, this device functions a lot like other mobile devices that you have. In fact, it's powered by Messenger, and in other spaces it's powered by Facebook. Alle de samme egenskaper, som en milliard plus personer som bruger Messenger, er vant til det samme som det som skjer på enheten. "
As a hypothetical, Bosworth points to the potential for cross-platform ads targeting video calling for those Who do it often – a classification, one imagines, that would apply to anyone who spends $ 199 on a video chat device of this nature. "If you were somebody who often uses video calls," Bosworth begins, "maybe there would be an ad-targeting cluster, for people who were interested in video calling. Du ville være en del av det. Det er sant om du skulle bruke videooppringning ofte på din mobiltelefon eller om du ofte bruker videooppringning på Portal. "
Facebook kan have maltet sig selv i et hjørne med dette, dog. Proberen als het zou kunnen zijn om de onderscheid tussen cameras / microfoons en de rest van de softwarestap te trekken, is er weinig twijfel dat vertrouwen zijn erode na maanden van praten rond belangrijke nieuwsverhalen zoals Cambridge Analytica. Når du først og fremst har trukket på det, så er det en stor løft å spørre brukerne om å plutselig kjøpe et stykke av standalone-maskinvare, de ikke visste at de trengte et par måneder tilbake.
"Sikkert, de headwinds vi står overfor Making sure consumers trust the brand are ones that we are all familiar with and frankly, up to the challenge for, "says Bosworth. "It's good to have extra scrutiny. We've been through a tremendous transformation inside the company over the last six to eight months to try to focus on those challenges. "
The executive believes in fact that the introduction of a device like Portal could actually serve to counteract That distrust, rather than exacerbate it.
"This device is exactly what I think people want from Facebook," he explains. "Det er en enhed som fokuserer på deres nærmeste venner og familie, og de erfaringer, og de forbindelser de har med disse folket. On one hand, I hear you. It's a headwind. På den annen side, det er akkurat det vi trenger. Det er faktisk den rigtige enheten som fortæller om en historie som jeg tror vi vil at folk skal høre om, hvad vi bryr oss om, og som får folk til å få dybere og mer meningsfulle hashers. "
 If Portal is ultimately a success, however, it will not be because the product served to convince people that the company is more focused on meaningful interactions versus ad sales before. It will be because our memories are short.
De vraag dan wordt of Portal kan bieden genoeg of een betekenisvolle onderscheiding van andere producten to compel users to buy in. Certainly the company has helped jumpstart this with ultimately reasonably priced products. Facebook-tidlige mål for produktet er sandsynligvis relativt beskjedne. Facebook-tidlige mål for produktet er sandsynligvis relativt beskedne. In gesprekken vooruit of lancering, heeft het bedrijf dit gepositioneerd als een kind van leren moment. Það hófst þegar fyrirtækin sáu fyrstu útgáfur af vörum í heima sem hluti af einkarekstri, og heldur áfram að einhverju leyti nú þegar tækið er út í heiminum. When pressed, the company would not offer anything concrete.
"This is the first Facebook branded hardware," says Bosworth. "It's early. I do not know that we have any specific sales expectations so much as what we have is a expectation to have a market that's big enough that we can learn, and iterate, and get better. "
This is true, certainly – og blandt mine største klager med enheten. Aside from the aforementioned video chat functionality, the Portal does not feel like a particularly fleshed-out device. There's a very limited selection of apps pre-loaded and no app store. Video beyond the shorts offered up through Facebook is a big maybe for the time being.
During my review of the Portal +, I could not shake the feeling that the product would have functioned as well even beter, misschien – als aanvulling op of gezamenlijke productie met Amazon. Men det partnerskabet er begrænset kun til at inkludere Alexa på telefonen. In fact, the company confirms that we can expect additional hardware devices over the next couple of years.
As it stands, Facebook says it's open to a broad spectrum of possibilities, based on consumer demand. It's something that could even, potentially, expand to on-device record, a feature that would further blur the lines of what the on-board camera and microphone can and should do.
"Right now, there's no recording possible on the device, "Bosworth says. "Den idéen om at kamera med mikrofoner, folk vil kanskje bruke det som et kamera med mikrofoner til å registrere ting. We wilden beginnen in een positie waar mensen zich voelden alsof ze het kunnen weten wat het apparaat was en hebben veel vertrouwen en vertrouwen, en brengen het thuis. There's an obvious area where you can expand it. There are also probably areas that are not obvious to us […] It's not at all fair to say that this is any kind of a beta period. We only decided to ship it when we felt like we had crossed over into full finished product territory. "
From a privacy perspective, these things always feel like a death by a million cuts. For now, however, the company is not recording anything locally and has no definitive plans to do so. Given the sort of year the company has been having with regards to optics around privacy, it's probably best to keep it that way.