SECOND TAKE: FINANCIAL TIMES' LEX
THE LEX COLUMN: Facebook’s new Portal an oddity
Releasing a product that tracks one’s every move is a strange way to reassure users about privacy
Facebook’s new hardware is an odd offering, coming from a company beset by security concerns. Video messaging device Portal comes complete with an artificial-intelligence camera that pans around to follow the person speaking. Releasing a product that tracks one’s every move is a strange way to reassure users about privacy. Facebook is also late to the party. In the US, Google and Amazon have clinched the smart-device market. One in five households with a Wi-Fi connection now has a smart speaker. Video-messaging devices are not yet widespread, but Google is expected to launch a product soon. Portal is expensive too, at $200, or $350 for the larger device. Amazon’s cheapest smart speaker sold for just $50 in 2017, and the company has a cheaper version of a video device. It would be better to know exactly how much Facebook intends to spend protecting data before releasing new hardware. The company’s shares trade at about 24 times expected earnings — a wide discount to tech peers — part...