When it comes to a compare and contrast between Apple and a few major competitors, we have a duty and obligation to keep it simple. Apple is a hardware company. Software– iOS, macOS, et al– is a key point of differentiation between Apple’s hardware and the competition. The same holds true for Apple’s various services; iCloud, Apple Pay, Apple Music, etc.; differentiators all, but designed to provide additional value to Apple customers and levels of stickiness to the walled garden ecosystem.
The same holds true for various Apple competitors; Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, and others that venture into hardware. Guess who just embarked on another move into hardware?
It isn’t the first time for Facebook hardware and may not be the last time. Facebook’s branded smartphone was short lived. Facebook’s new Portal devices may have some legs. The social network company has 2-billion users and a compelling line of new products; essentially a mix of a Siri-like interface with an iPad-like display that allows Facebook users to do face-to-face FaceTime-like conversations.
It may take months to determine whether Facebook has a hit on its hands or has muddied the waters with another clunky piece of hardware that nobody wants, but first impressions– based on a neighbor and how they use Portal, and some very attractive television commercials– are positive. Portal does much of what any iPhone, iPad, or Mac can do with FaceTime, but in a very casual, unassuming, and friendly way.
Portal itself comes in two models; the standup, iPad-like (in landscape mode) device with a camera and onscreen controls, and a different and more attractive portrait device with a camera than can move and follow subjects. Relative to an iPad’s price tag, Portal is competitive; decent camera, decent screen resolution, decent audio, and a Siri-like simplicity via built-in controls.
What’s not to like?
On the surface, nothing. Just under the surface, enough to create a must to avoid situation. Why? Facebook is a company that spies on users– free social network software in exchange for personal information and the obligation to view ads tailored to persuade and manipulate the user.
FaceTime can provide much of the same kind of convenience, yes, and because Apple’s personal communication app is tied to an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, even more capability is built-in. Facebook tracks users in a way not beneficial to users, while FaceTime remains somewhat innocuous in tracking capabilities– Apple does not need to track users to make money. For Facebook, Google, and Amazon– all of which have similar products– tracking is a requirement.
Just as most of Apple’s customers have no idea that Apple doesn’t need to track them to make a buck, customers don’t know that’s the business proposition for Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
As compelling as Facebook Portal is, which of the above named companies would you prefer to use to communicate to others?