As expected, Facebook did not debut its highly anticipated smart speakers at its F8 Developer Conference. But unexpectedly, it may be the case that we in the United States are still a ways away from seeing the devices in our homes. According to the latest reports, Facebook is looking to launch its speakers overseas first amid the considerable scrutiny and controversy the company is facing back home regarding data security and user privacy.
According to a pair of sources who have discussed Facebook’s plans for smart speakers with CNBC, the social media giant is “mulling a plan” to sell its smart home devices in international markets ahead of debuting them in the U.S. Previously, rumors suggested that production for the devices would not begin until June, and that production volume had already been cut by 20 percent from original plans. At the time, Facebook confirmed these reports to Bloomberg, saying that the speakers aren’t being rushed “to ensure that they make the right trade-offs regarding user data.”
Then, there was the news that Facebook would not be releasing its speakers until October 2018. But now that reports suggest that an international rollout will go first, we may not see the smart speakers from Facebook in the United States at all in 2018.
But what can we expect when we finally do get our hands on the devices? One of the speakers is rumored to have a camera and touchscreen, and will be integrated with Facebook Messenger to make for more seamless communication. Both devices will feature Facebook’s own smart voice assistant that is closely related to M, the company’s A.I. program.
M has previously been seen by users, as it was responsible for a personal assistant chatbot that lived within Messenger. However, that service was shuttered in January. Now, however, it looks like M will get new life in the form of voice commands as Facebook looks to compete with Amazon and Google, who, of course, have their own smart speakers and smart assistants. It’s unclear as of yet what Facebook’s voice assistant will be called, though sources suggest that its name will likely begin with the letter “M.”