Facebook unveils video chat devices, streaming new TV

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.Oit published new models of its video chat devices from Portal on Wednesday, which initiated the company 's television streaming hardware but offers a limited choice of subscription services.

PHOTO FILE: A sticker on which the Facebook logo is featured at F8 Facebook developers conference in San Jose, California, U., April 30, 2019. REUTERS / Stephen Lam / File Photo

The launch comes because Facebook is trying to move towards more private forms of communication, after many years of easing user growth, data sharing scandals and calls for a change in its practical approach to subject moderation.

The company is already one of the largest global players in private messages, with its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram apps using 2.4 billion people each month.

It is keeping its new Gateway line focus on video calling, adding to the ability for WhatsApp calls as well as improvements to a wide angle camera that keeps users in focus while moving around room.

Facebook is also expanding Gateway sales in countries including the UK, France and Australia, while prices are being lowered to compete more closely with smart Amazon speakers and Google sellers. $ 100.

Standard models of the Portal, which the ship will be on October 15 in the future in $ 129 and versions $ 179. The TV Portal will cost $ 149 and hit the shelves on 5 November.

Facebook expects the social nature of its products to be the point of sale, allowing users to watch shows together while interacting via video on the same screen.

“I think in a few years if you have a smart streaming device that doesn't have a camera that allows you to call people, you won't have a competitive product,” said Vice President AR / VR Andrew Bosworth. “I think this is the killing feature of a device like this.”

Bosworth also contacted privacy protections such as local processing of smart features on the devices, which means that most user data will not be returned to Facebook servers.

However, TV Portal offers only a few music applications and has limited options for television programs, meaning that attracting consumers to content rich competitors such as Apple TV, Netflix and Roku can be a real challenge.

At a demo in San Francisco Tuesday, it seemed that the only way to stream was to show through Facebook Watch app. Executives said that Amazon's Main Video application would be loaded by the time it is available.

The company refused to say whether it contacted other content providers such as HBO, Hulu or Disney.

Facebook does not reveal how many Gateways it sold since the device launched late last year, but hardware represents a small shell of the company's total sales.

Social media giants make less than 2 per cent of its income from non-promotional sources.

Reporting by Katie Paul; Edited by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards:The principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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