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.
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.