The Future, Potentials and Shortcomings of Facebook Portal for Business

Last year, Facebook launched a smart display video-calling device called ‘Portal’. The device is used to make video calls over Facebook messenger. A video and audio device linked to Facebook will definitely arouse lots of concerns. This is however not a deterrent to the company’s drive. Facebook has released a new range of Portal devices leaving users to wonder what more is to come. 

Facebook Portal was primarily designed for use amongst family and friends. It is currently venturing into the business world. Facebook announced the integration of Facebook portal with the work place. This is a market where Zoom, Cisco, WebEx and Skype are amongst leaders. Will businesses choose Workplace Portal over others?

Facebook Portal’s Current Device Range

Facebook recently announced updates to its portal line of smart devices. These devices include a 10-inch, mini 8-inch and Portal TV and Portal Plus. The difference between these devices is their screen sizes. Portal TV connects to your TV and so can use a larger screen for its display. All devices can be set to landscape and portrait modes based on preference. These devices are designed primarily for video calling. 

Pros of Using Facebook Portal for Business

  • Advanced camera for Video Conferencing

Facebook Portal comes with a camera that uses advanced AI tech to perform its functions. This spotlight feature allows the camera to recognize and follow a presenter roaming around a room. It’s just like a human holding a camera and following the presenter around. The presenter, however, has to remain within the Portal’s range. It can automatically pan and zoom while minimizing background noises. The lens is capable of capturing multiple persons and tracks them as they move in a room. 

  • Quality audio 

There is an inbuilt intelligence microphone tech in Facebook Portal. It forms a beam to track the people talking and can reduce background noise. Thus, it is easy to communicate with a good number of people in a room at once. You can switch off the video option when you only require an audio connection. 

  • Flexible presentation options

First of all, the high-tech camera and video functions are ideal for business collaborations. A presenter can make explanations to receivers on a whiteboard. Since movement is not a limitation, making demonstrations is very easy. File sharing and video streaming are other pluses on the list. All these functions make it easy for businesses to use Facebook Portal for video conferencing. 

  • User-friendliness

These devices utilize the Amazon Alexa support as standard. Users can watch videos, make calls and do many other things by voice command. Its touch screen function is very easy to use. The augmented reality effects make conversations more fun and friendly. There are gaming functions, web browsers and other integrations for increased usability. There is no rule that says business meetings can’t be engaging and entertaining.  

  • Comparatively Low Price

Video conferencing solutions tend to be very expensive. The Facebook portal is a far more affordable device than others. Its prices start at $179 dollar which is far less than its alternatives. Thus, businesses have the luxury of cutting their investment costs with

  • Portability

In addition to cost, many video conferencing solutions require hefty hardware. Facebook Portal offers a range of portable devices. The devices can be moved cross locations with few hurdles. This makes offsite meetings, training sessions and remote collaborations very easy to handle. Considering how businesses operate these days, this is definitely a huge benefit.

Cons of Using Facebook Portal

  • Privacy Concerns

In 2018, the Cambridge Analytica erupted into a scandalous phase for Facebook. Users are yet to forget this and still raise concerns over the privacy of this app. 

Facebook, however, says it has made the Portal more private. It promises not to view, listen or store your encrypted contents. The microphone and camera are turned off by default. There is a switch that lets you cover the camera and turn off the microphone. The lingering question is, ‘how far does Facebook have to go to earn users trust again?’

Limited Users Reach 

The use of Facebook Portal is limited to users of Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. So, if your partners do not use Facebook or Whatsapp then you can’t call them with it. Whatsapp currently has many users and using the app may not be an issue. Many people do not actively use Facebook anymore and this could be a limitation. 

  • Limited coverage to certain countries

The use of Facebook is also limited to some countries like China. International business calls may be blocked due to this fact. This is a limitation that may not favour many businesses operating internationally. 

The Future of Facebook Portal for Business

  • Room For Expansion 

Initially, portal and portal plus were limited to the United States. Canada and Europe are fast joining the list. Expansion plans have been ongoing; soon these devices will be available in other markets. This means more Portal users and more business operations. 

  • Portal-Workplace Integration

The Facebook workplace is taking several steps into the video conferencing arena. It plans to release an app that would integrate with Portal. It promises to include video features like captioning and 14 language auto-translations. Admins can send surveys, use analytics and post-learning content on this platform. These, together with the Portal updates will definitely mean good news for businesses.

  • More Third-Party Integrations

The use of Facebook for businesses is limited to its current app integrations. Facebook already partnered with Food Network, Spotify, Pandora and others. It is expected that more app integrations will occur in the near future. This will increase the functionality of this tool, especially in businesses.

Conclusion

From a technological perspective, the Facebook portal could stand as one of the best devices in the market. Analysts say Facebook Portal line faces strong competition from tech companies. Facebook Portal has erupted mixed reactions from users. This is quite expected due to the company’s history. 

Judging from current features, the Facebook portal is more suitable for small businesses. Price and portability cannot continue to be its major bargaining point. However, Facebook Portal has shown great persistence in its attempt to satisfy its users. Facebook is quite positive that portal updates will fill a void in the smart display market. This will hopefully give it a competitive advantage amongst others.

Published 10/25/19