Just when we thought that Apple would be the last big-time player to enter the race for Smart Speaker domination, along comes Facebook to stake a claim in the world of Voice First.
Reports are that Facebook is preparing to launch not one, but two different Smart Speakers onto the market later this year (the entry-level Alpha and more advance Fiona). Their focus is likely to, as with Apples Home Pod, be sound quality with rumours surfacing about some big money music licencing deals being signed with the likes of Sony and Universal Music.
The other key feature will be a 15″ touchscreen meaning that watching films, TV Programmes and music videos will almost certainly be the devices primary use.
We expect there will, of course, be a heavy social media angle too with voice and facial recognition technology enabling the user to log into Facebook securely via the device.
Whilst Facebook is still currently the market leader in terms of Social Media platforms a recent study by eMarketer showed them losing ground with young users. The company believes that entering the music market will be a key way to build their market share in that demographic with these smart speaker devices the first in a range of expected music and video focused hardware products.
Facebook won’t be the first social media brand to launch its own hardware. “Snap” created its own wearable, camera “spectacles” in 2016 but failed to sell the thousands of devices they expected. With the Smart Speaker market expected to double to over 50million global units in 2018, it’s unlikely that Facebook’s Smart Speaker’s will meet the same fate.
The implications for the Smart Speaker market however, is massive. Not only is it yet another major player to dip a toe in the world of voice-activated technology but it will also affect the way we use social media on such devices. Currently, social media doesn’t play a key role on Voice-First devices with most users continuing to access sites such as Facebook and Instagram on their Smart-Phones. However, if users show an appetite for accessing their social media accounts via Smart Speakers then the likes of Amazon and Google will have to consider how to integrate this into their products. We may even see the very first “voice-designed” social media channels launching in the next 12 months.