Facebook launches Amazon Echo rival, partners with Spotify, Pandora and iHeart

Look out Google, Apple and Amazon.

Facebook has just entered the smart speaker business and it’s already partnered with three music services: Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio.

The social media giant’s new ‘video communication’ devices are called the Portal and Portal+, and feature widescreen displays, hands-free voice control and AI-powered cameras and sound.

And according to Facebook’s launch statement, it will be announcing additional partnerships soon.

The $199 Portal and $399 Portal+ are only available for pre-order in the US and will begin shipping in November.

Although Amazon isn’t listed as a music partner, Facebook’s ‘Portal’ devices do have Amazon Alexa built in. You can ask the device questions by using the voice command, ‘Hey Portal.’

Pandora is the only launch partner to have commented on Facebook’s new devices so far, writing in a blog post: “We’re teaming up with Facebook for its launch of Portal, two new video communication devices for the home that allow users to engage in video chats with their closest friends and family, to help change that.

“Thanks to Pandora, music can be a part of the way you communicate. As of today, all listeners across ad-supported, Plus, and Premium tiers can play their music on Pandora using the power of their voice with Alexa, or share their favorite tunes while chatting with up to six friends directly on Portal’s touchscreen interface. And, when played, music will be magically synced across your Portal devices.”

Facebook, whose founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was recently questioned by Congress about the company’s privacy practices, clearly anticipated scepticism about it selling an AI device that can see and hear in your home and as such insists that it won’t “listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls”.

“For added security, Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI technology that runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers. Portal’s camera doesn’t use facial recognition and doesn’t identify who you are,” it adds.

Last month, Adobe forecast in a research paper that 48% of US-based consumers would own a smart speaker by the end of this year.

In June, Facebook announced that its users can now legally upload and share UGC videos which feature licensed music in selected markets.

This year has seen Facebook sign various multi-territory licensing deals, with the likes of Warner Music Group in March and in the same month French PRO SACEM, Canadian PRO SOCAN and and US-Based indie publisher Wixen.

A month later it announced that it had signed an agreement with Beggars Group, Ingrooves, [PIAS] and Merlin, the commercial agency which represents more than 20,000 independent record labels and distributors.Music Business Worldwide

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