Thoughts on Facebook’s plan for a TV device

The Information*’s Alex Heath with an exclusive on Facebook’s plans to create a TV set-top box:

The device, which Facebook is aiming to release this fall, will use the same video-calling technology that is in Facebook’s camera-equipped smart speaker, called Portal, which has a screen of its own and is designed to sit on kitchen counters and desks, according to two people familiar with the project and documents viewed by The Information. The new device, code-named Catalina, will also come with a physical remote and streaming video services similar to other television boxes like Apple TV.

Remove its negative PR image and Facebook would be a formidable hardware company by now. Portal is excellent tech for normal people. Oculus Quest is thrilling. In this context, a TV offering incorporating some of that ease of use and marketing budget isn’t a bad idea.

But then, it’s Facebook. As I suggested recently, the company’s punishment for Cambridge Analytica is a lot bigger than $5bn.

(*Subscribe to The Information. It’s terrific.)