Facebook is mulling a plan to sell its upcoming smart speakers internationally before launching them in the U.S., as American users and politicians have increased their focus on Facebook and user privacy, according to two people who have had discussions with the company about the devices.
The two devices, which Facebook had intended on announcing at its F8 Developer Conference on Tuesday, are the company's answer to Amazon's Echo and Alphabet's Google Home products. The speakers, one of which will come with a camera and a touch screen, will connect directly to Facebook Messenger to make chatting with friends and family through the service much easier.
The devices will also come equipped with a smart voice assistant that's tied to Facebook's artificial intelligence program, M.
Among other uses, M previously powered a personal assistant chatbot on Messenger, but Facebook shut that incarnation down in January.
The M program was not completely shut down, however. Multiple sources say Facebook will now be taking the program and developing it into a voice assistant, complete with voice commands. Facebook has previously worked on speech recognition systems.
On Tuesday at F8, Facebook announced M Translations, a Messenger and Marketplace feature that translates foreign languages into a Messenger user's default language. Having a translation feature would be necessary for an international rollout.
The company has played around with calling the assistant by some name that begins with the letter "M," multiple sources said. One source noted a potential name was "Marvin."