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Facebook Gears Up to Refresh Its Portal Hardware Line

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Facebook says Portal sales have been good

Signaling that its smart speaker business is doing well, Facebook (FB) is preparing to release a new generation of its Portal smart speaker device before the end of the year. Facebook’s original Portal devices, Portal and Portal Plus, cost between $200 and $350. Facebook’s first Portal devices went on sale toward the end of 2018.

Although it’s essentially a smart speaker in the mold of Amazon’s (AMZN) Echo Show or Google’s (GOOGL) Home Hub, Portal is promoted as a video-calling device. It can also be used to stream music thanks to Facebook’s partnerships with online music providers Pandora (SIRI) and Spotify (SPOT). Speaking at the Code Conference in Arizona in June, Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth said Portal sales have been very good but didn’t provide specific metrics.

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Facebook looking to open new revenue streams outside advertising

Facebook is counting on hardware products like Portal to reduce its dependency on advertising dollars. At the moment, Facebook is one of the most ad-dependent companies in digital advertising. Advertising sales comprised 99% of Facebook’s total revenue in the first quarter, compared with 85% at Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), 86% at Twitter, and 72% at both Yandex and Baidu. Selling smart speakers is a lucrative business—Research and Markets expects the global smart speaker market to expand from $4.4 billion in 2017 to $23.3 billion by 2025.

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