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Facebook launches Portal for Business

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Facebook has unveiled a Portal for Business device management suite that allows businesses to deploy and oversee a fleet of Portal devices across their business. 

Aimed primarily at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Portal for Business allows organisations to manage Portal+ devices across their workforce, so users can collaborate, communicate and manage workflows on a separate display to their workstations.

With this service, IT admins can manage devices that have been set up by employees who have access to Portal for Business. The platform allows them to deploy and manage the hardware, control work accounts, manage device settings, check device status and reboot devices remotely, regardless of where the workforce is based.

Portal is a family of smart displays that launched in 2018 as a means for people to engage in video calls independently of their PCs, laptops or tablets. Portal for Business represents an evolution into the realm of productivity, with Portal complementing Facebook’s existing Workplace collaboration suite.

However, from December, Facebook is also adding support for Microsoft Teams for all Portal devices, in a bid to entice more prospective customers, and entire organisations, who don’t buy into Facebook’s core collaboration platform. This also hints at more integrations with third-party services later down the line.

The expansion of Facebook Portal into the productivity sphere comes alongside two new additions to the hardware family, including Portal Go and Portal+. 

Portal Go is a 10in portable system that’s designed for people who move around their home or workspace frequently. This includes a 12MP camera and an ultra-wide field of view, as well as doubling as a portable speaker.

The 14in Portal+ device, meanwhile, features a 12MP smart camera with an ultra-wide field of view alongside stereo speakers. Facebook is touting this iteration as the ideal workplace companion to dial into work calls, take notes, view a presentation or multitask, aided by the fact this display is larger than many conventional business notebooks.

Facebook’s launch of Portal for Business comes only shortly after it announced its Horizon Workooms hybrid work virtual reality (VR) product, which involves distributing Oculus headsets to a team and beaming them into a digital office. 

This is quite different, however, from its latest Portal hardware and SMB service, which rather resembles Zoom’s strategy of releasing hardware and services so users can build the ‘ultimate home office’.

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