Facebook just launched a line of hardware called Portal. Its purpose is to provide easy face-to-face communication with a simple screen and camera. While it looks like an Echo device, the purpose is exclusively communication.
What I set out to understand is why would they build this. With something like Alexa, Amazon can charge for more services like music and learn ore about their consumer base. Facebook, on the other hand, is in an odd position because they are basically facilitating video calls. There is very little data they can secure (without being incredibly invasive) that would let advertisers target you better.
What is clear is that they are making video calls simpler. The AI lets the software worry about you staying in the frame, zooming, and so on. This makes video calling easier and doable while completing other tasks. It may allow them to champion more human interaction, slowly becoming the platform for communication. So the purpose might just be to become more important in the world of direct communication.
After all, they only currently have messenger and this is a chance to jump off the phone and computer. Even messenger on Android allows you to consolidate texting into it (a feature I love by the way), suggesting this convergence of communication to Facebook.
My only concern is that the best targets are people with Echo Shows. They are willing to have a camera / microphone in their home and like the idea of a connected home. The concern is that it already has video calling and two connected screens in the house might be too much for even them. I am very curious to see how they sell.