Facebook is a powerful phone book, but it long ago opted against building a phone. There were good reasons not to build a phone. One, the risk of failure was high — at the time, Windows Phone was sputtering, and the iOS/Android duopoly looked increasingly impenetrable. Two, it would have put Facebook in direct competition with Google and Apple, risking an ugly conflict with the two biggest platforms on which the company depends.
But in search of new growth, Facebook ultimately came back around to the idea of building its own hardware — and, in a way, back to the phone. First came the Oculus acquisition, which turned Facebook into a manufacturer of virtual-reality gear. And today comes Portal, a video phone that runs on Facebook…
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