But Facebook shut down the M digital assistant a year ago due to a lack of traction. Now the social network is working on a voice assistant to serve its 2.32bn users around the world. It's not clear how it's going to perform, but don't count on it being an Alexa or Google Assistant replacement. The voice assistant would, presumably, be paired with the company's Portal device, but wider plans are unclear.
Facebook reportedly confirmed a report stating it is in the process of developing its own Artificial Intelligence-based Voice Assistant.
According to CNBC, the new initiative has been spearheaded by a team based out of Redmond, Washington, and lead by the director of AV/VR and Facebook Assisstant, Ira Snyder. This service allows the users to place video calls via Facebook Messenger by simply saying "Hey Portal".
Facebook could soon integrate a company-branded voice assistant into its home hardware.
Few people use voice assistants and speakers for shopping.Voice commerce in 2018 will reach $2.10 billion - just 0.4% of USA ecommerce sales, per eMarketer. The team comes from Facebook's augmented reality and virtual reality groups, and has been in talks with smart speaker suppliers.
The social networking giant says it is focusing less on messaging and more on platforms in which hands-free interaction, gesture control, and voice control is paramount. When Facebook's digital assistant is ready, then it seems likely that it will be integrated natively into Portal without needing assistance from Alexa. Amazon and Google are far ahead in the smart speaker market with 67 per cent and 30 per cent shares in the U.S. in 2018, respectively.
Currently, AI-enabled Portal video chat service of Facebook is making use of Amazon's Alexa. Amazon and Google are the market leaders for smart speakers, but they also face growing competition from Apple and soon Facebook.