Facebook working on voice assistant to rival Amazon’s Alexa

Saturday, 20 Apr, 2019

Facebook says it'll be tying the assistant to its products, specifically its Portal product and Oculus VR headsets. The company eventually shut down the feature, but it was reported a year ago (also by CNBC) that a revamped "M", apparently short "Marvin", could make an appearance in Portal speakers.

The Facebook assistant faces stiff competition.

Amazon, with Alexa, had 67% of the market share in the United States in 2018, while Google had about 30% share, according to eMarketer. Facebook, however, could use its new voice assistant as an ad channel that brings in more revenue and furthers its place in the advertising duopoly.

Ira Snyder, a general manager at Facebook Reality Labs, is working on the voice-assistant project, said the reports. The company's Messenger team previously built an assistant for the messaging app called M, which was supposed to act like a personal assistant. However, there are no details on what Facebook's new assistant will be called or how it would be used.

Facebook If you visit the Facebook Portal listing over at Amazon.com, you'll find plenty of five-star reviews of the smart display product. The digital assistant will have more of a focus on platforms for hands-free interactions through voice controls and possibly gesture controls. The team comes from Facebook's augmented reality and virtual reality groups, and has been in talks with smart speaker suppliers. Right now, Portal users interact with Alexa for complex tasks. It would compete with such players as Alexa from Amazon, Siri from Apple or Google Assistant. Facebook's Portal now taps into Amazon's Alexa.

For those fully ensconced in the Facebook ecosystem, perhaps this will be of interest.