At $499 (again, rumor from what we can tell today) Facebook apparently thinks that it can bring a device to market that consumers would pay twice as much for versus the Echo Show. Yeah I don’t think so. If the selling point is that it’s an easy way to connect with family and friends from a hands free hub in your kitchen that’s some pretty weak sauce. And it most certainly doesn’t command any sort of pricing power for a company with no proven track record whatsoever in the hardware business.
And you know what else? It doesn’t matter.
This is an easy bet for Zuck to make. Nobody with a head on their shoulders expects it to do well. Nobody. And if you think it will I think you may want to have your head checked. Facebook isn’t a hardware company and with the limited track record of the Facebook phone effort a few years back they’ve really got nothing to lose.
So why do it? Given Zuckerberg’s penchant for viewing things over long time horizons my bet is he sees it as a learning experience and even more importantly the whole process is probably a lot of fun. It shows he’s willing to step outside the box and try something new. And it’s also distinctly possible that he gleans something from the Portal that leads to some success on other fronts down the line. Remember Facebook owns Oculus too so there is a hardware company somewhere in there.
Remember what Jeff Bezos said of his Fire Phone failure? He said, “If you think that’s a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now - and I am not kidding. Some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip.”
Hey listen I don’t like any of Facebook's platforms as a consumer (must be why I don't use them). But I recognize the company's reach and power as a platform and how investors can win from it. I think Zuckerberg wants to be seen as taking this Bezos-style mentality. I can’t hold that against him at all and if you're an investor in Facebook you shouldn't either.
So yeah, Facebook Portal can (and likely will) totally fail. And it won’t matter one bit.