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This summer news broke that Facebook parent company Meta was planning to shift the focus of its smart display division to enterprise products rather than continuing to focus on consumer devices like the Meta Portal lineup.

Now it looks like Meta is exiting the smart display business altogether. The company announced it was laying off about 13 percent of its workforce this week, and according to Reuters, one result of laying off roughly 11-thousand people is that Meta will stop making smart displays.

Meta Portal Smart display with a Facebook Messenger group call on the screen
Meta’s Portal Go could soon be gone for good

The first Portal products launched in 2018, back when Facebook’s parent company was still called Facebook. The company positioned them as devices that served many of the same functions as an Amazon Echo Show device – you could use Amazon’s Alexa voice service to stream music or videos, ask questions, or set reminders.

But Facebook’s bread and butter is social interaction, so it’s not surprising that the company positioned Portal as a way to make Facebook Messenger video calls on a screen that’s bigger than your phone, but which blends into your environment better than a PC.

The product line never really got as much attention as similar devices from Amazon and Google though, and it wasn’t uncommon to see Portal smart displays selling for less than half the list price. In fact, you can pick up a Portal from Amazon for as little as $56 right now (it has a list price of $179). The Portal Go (with a built-in battery) is selling for $79 (down from $199).

Of course, with the company shutting down its smart display business, it’s unclear how long these products will continue to be supported moving forward… so maybe now’s not the best time to by one.

Reuters reports that Meta is also winding down “work on smartwatch products.” The difference there is that the company wasn’t currently selling any smartwatches, so there’s nothing in the wild to support.

Meanwhile, Meta will continue to invest heavily in virtual reality and the “metaverse,” which CEO Mark Zuckerberg is either convinced will be the next big thing in personal computing… or which he’s already spent so much money on that it’s too late to back out now.

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9 replies on “Meta pulls the plug on its Portal smart display business”

  1. That’s unfortunate. My parents and kids use it to talk to each other. To my surprise, my parents were able to use it well but weren’t able get the hang of using an iPad for the same purpose.

    1. Turns out the folks over at XDA have been working on these for years. So far there has been no success. Looks like more e-waste.

  2. huh. turns out when people catch on that your business model relies on selling your user’s information, people become unwilling to adopt new products from your company no matter what you rename the company to. go figure.

    1. Facebook’s core business is more luxury than a necessity. Just like cigarettes. So they needed to pivot like that industry; buying politicians, judges, twisting facts, and marketing themselves deceptively.

      Whilst Cigarette Industry spectacularly failed, their close ally the Gambling industry didn’t. And their other allies like the Alcohol Industry used the same tactics but better and became successful, whilst The Oil Industry went even further, far more effectively and became spectacularly successful.

      So unless Facebook either invents The Next Big Thing (like iPhone) they will continue on this downward trajectory. Or they will have to resort to the shenanigans I’ve pointed out above.

      1. A highly addictive luxury that people ostracize you for if you don’t use it. Except if you don’t use social media you’re ostracizing yourself, unless you’re part of the small minority that’s actually doing well enough to be considered “successful” anymore. And governments weren’t really buying cigarettes the way they buy information control from social media, or for the same reasons. If Meta bought Twitter and/or Snapchat instead of Occulus they’d be fine, even if few people have both the time and patience to use a site like Facebook…in the US anyway. I hear it’s still dominating elsewhere in the world.
        What we’re seeing here is the financial consequences of trying to push forward their information manipulation into people’s perception of physical reality before there’s any hardware that can be worn all day (in the middle of an undeclared recession), but if someone doesn’t do that there never would be any good hardware for totally screwing with everyone’s perception of physical reality. I think Zuckerberg despises the average person enough that he’d destroy his company if that’s what it took to get the hardware out so at least Google and Microsoft could go on to accomplish what Meta was planning.

  3. Kind of a shame, I have one of them that my daughter uses to call family that lives on the other side of the country. As much as I loathe Facebook it’s a great device for what I use it for.

    1. Yeah, my kids and I use them to video call my parents often. Works very well.

  4. Hey, plastering ads and provocative messages that no one can prove in court that you saw no matter how bad they are over every available surface would be a massive source of possible revenue, IF (and ONLY IF) you can actually convince everyone that they have to wear VR headsets around all day every day to fit in.
    Meanwhile a tablet that you can’t carry around and doesn’t run as much software never made much sense except to give a video phone to someone completely clueless about how any kind of computer might be used.

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