News has leaked today, via Digitimes, of a new entrant in the smart speaker space, Facebook, who’s device, esconded in magnesium alloy, will feature a 15-inch touch screen.
The rumoured device will presumably be a competitor to the Amazon Show, and would in theory also be a competitor to Microsoft’s Home Hub, except there is no sign the feature will be hitting our devices anytime soon.
As usual, after working for years on a concept, Microsoft will be left behind by competitors who are more nimble and execute better.
Home Hub would turn a family PC into a shared experience. For instance, Home Hub’s home screen will show the calendar for the family, their to-do lists, as well as all of their notes. According to previous reports, Home Hub would be able to distinguish between different users just like Google’s Home speaker, meaning that users should be able to check out their own personal to-do lists, and schedule on their family’s Home Hub as well. The welcome screen in Home Hub devices will apparently be always on,.
Using a PC as a smart speaker/ family whiteboard would have given the neglected family desktop a second use and helped OEMs sell attractive products like HP’s new Pavillion All-in-One. With even home users becoming increasingly phone-centric Windows desperately needs a reason to exist besides office work and home work. In a world with ambient computing and millions of Amazon Echos sold a large screen and camera offered a great point of differentiation, until Amazon introduced the Echo Show, which executes brilliantly on the concept. Facebook’s new smart speaker will seal the deal, offering access to a much more popular messaging platform in the form of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, the ability to display photos from your Instagram feed, and of course ready access to the massive social network that is Facebook itself.
If and when Microsoft finally delivers Home Hub it will be more than a day late, and knowing Microsoft, much more than a dollar short, joining a list of failed initiatives which is slowly dooming the company into turning into another IBM.
Sadly, given the company’s conservative culture, this is unlikely to change anytime soon, turning Microsoft into a great incubator for ideas their competitors can finally bring to our homes. I guess some-one has to do that….