Meta is reducing its plans for augmented reality glasses and moving its Portal lineup away from the consumer market.
Facebook once described the Portal family of devices as the future of video calling. Significant amounts of money were spent on advertising campaigns to advance products.
The company plans to stop creating consumer versions of Portal video calling hardware, and instead direct the product line to focus on corporate use cases, such as conference calls.
The change in strategy comes as the company is reassessing its hardware plans in line with investor concerns about billions of dollars it is spending on projects that have not paid off financially.
The Portal Line debuted in 2018 with two screens intended to be dedicated video call stations. They have also supported apps for activities such as listening to music via Spotify and streaming videos through Food Network.
But the screens had limited functionality. And its relationship with Facebook – which has been dealing with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal – has raised privacy concerns by placing a connected camera in your home.
New versions were released at that time, including the portable Portal Go. But the device was not very successful. Research firm IDC estimates that Meta shipped 800,000 Portal devices in 2021, representing less than 1% of the global market for smart speakers and displays.
The company currently sells four Portal products, ranging from a $99 TV-connected camera to a $349 smart display.
Meta’s decision to market Portal as a business product is in line with its recent efforts to promote the device as a hybrid business tool, as the two latest Portal devices are compatible with Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
META’s lineup of Portal devices focuses on businesses
The company continues to sell its existing Portal models, as well as provide long-term support to existing customers. Portal devices are gaining momentum among companies looking to enable better collaboration between home workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The main feature of Portal devices is video calling, with the ability to start or join calls for up to 50 people. The devices feature built-in support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.
In addition, the Portal Line is positioned as an entertainment device that provides access to Netflix, Prime Video, Showtime, as well as Spotify. The devices can also act as a digital photo frame, displaying photos from Facebook and Instagram.
Separately, the company had originally planned to release the first version of its augmented reality glasses, codenamed Project Nazare, in 2024.
However, employees have been notified that the company is no longer planning to launch augmented reality glasses commercially. This came as a result of efforts to reduce the huge investments in the Reality Labs division.
The company plans instead to use the first version of AR glasses as a demonstration product, rather than a commercial product. It also plans to prioritize the release of the second version of AR glasses, codenamed Artemis.
The changes come as Meta deals with slowing revenue growth. This prompted her to freeze employment in some departments.