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Meta has just cancelled Portal — along with its smartwatch plans

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Meta was obliged to reduce its staff by approximately 13% last week, resulting in the layoff of over 11,000 individuals.

While no departmental breakdown was provided, Zuckerberg noted in his blog post on the news that the firm would prioritise “high priority growth areas” such as the AI discovery engine, advertising, and the metaverse.

What this means for Meta’s hardware aspirations has now been revealed by Reuters. According to the source, two immediate casualties were revealed during a business town hall meeting: Portal, the smart screen device dedicated to video calls, and the company’s long-rumored Meta Watch wearable.

While it’s natural to believe that cancelling an unpublished product won’t have a significant impact on the company’s financial line, this underestimates how much time and money Meta has already invested on it. According to reports, the smartwatch concept was well enough along that at least two generations were planned.

The first version was designed to be distinct in the world of smartwatches by focusing on photography and video. Along with the normal fitness monitoring features, rumours stated that the device would have had a removable face, similar to the now-defunct Fitbit Blaze, and a camera on both the front and back. The former would enable for video calls from the wrist, while the latter would allow for higher-quality photographs and video.

According to Reuters, workers working on the smartwatch will be reassigned to work on augmented reality glasses, where Meta plans to expand on its Ray-Ban Stories – another product that allows easy video posting to Instagram and Facebook.

In terms of Portal, Meta had already strayed from its intended goal, and had been aimed solely towards corporate users since June. Even yet, Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth allegedly stated that it would take Portal too long to become a major competitor in the space (an earlier Information report estimated it at only 1% of the whole market).

“It was just going to take so long and so much investment to break into the enterprise category,” he is quoted as saying. It’s unclear whether this means Meta will stop selling Portal immediately, or when support for the gadget would expire.

The article makes no mention of Meta’s Quest range of virtual reality headsets. But, presumably, the Quest division is safe as long as the company prioritises the metaverse. And, for the time being, that appears to be the case, despite widespread industry scepticism and disinterested employees.

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