The Microsoft Surface Hub Is in Big Trouble

A few months back, I wrote a column: Will Microsoft Be Able to Continue to Rip People Off With Their Surface HUB?

Most of you agreed; some didn’t.

And now, four months after writing that piece, I still think it’s way, way, way overpriced for what you get.

But on the same week that Whitlock recently awarded Microsoft’s Surface Hub Partner of the Year, Microsoft  announced the Surface Hub group was basically being disbanded and manufacturing moved to China. It looks like Microsoft figured out what we all already knew — it’s way too expensive.

So, they’re moving production to China and expect the next generation to be closer in price to the new Google Jamboard. Oh, and it’ll likely look a lot nicer, too.

But is it too little, too late?

The market for the collaboration board, as I like to call them, is now flooded with companies. I count 23.

And the latest contenders with quality competition to the Surface Hub, products like the NewLine TRUTOUCH VN Series, the Cisco Spark Board and the Jamboard itself are good. I mean really good. Each for different customers, though.

The Cisco Spark Board is a SLAM DUNK success. Anyone on the Spark platform would be nuts not to buy them and put them all over their business. Not just rooms, either. I mean literally all over.

The Jamboard is, well, Google. What better branding does it need? And the G Suite-integrated collaboration board is a perfect plug-and-play product for anyone who thinks all the collaboration they really need is Google Docs. That’s a lot of businesses and schools.

NewLine’s latest, the VN Series, is 4K, finally has a nice aesthetic and an OS on top of the Windows 10 interface that’s better than Windows.

But Microsoft is still a giant operating system. And, like Google, a lot of people still use and need simple collaborative applications. And, what’s built into Microsoft Windows 10 is enough for them.

That’s why Whitlock sells so many. But that was all prior to March 2017. Now, instead of having only three or four competitive products shipping selling against the Surface Hub, there are almost two dozen. And all but one of them is cheaper than the same-size version of the Microsoft-branded collaboration board line. And some are even better — take the latest version of the InFocus Mondopad, for example. InFocus, although a small company, has actually done a better job integrating the Microsoft OS than Microsoft itself.

For now, I’d advise Whitlock to find a good, solid second-source supplier of collaboration boards. That goes for you too. There are so many to choose from now! And it’s about the be a multi-billion-dollar market.

Gary Kayye

About Gary Kayye

Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe Publications, is one of the most prominent personalities in the audiovisual industry. He has been a contributor to WIRED magazine and a technical advisor and columnist for Sound & Communications magazine as well as an opinionated columnist for rAVe [Publications] since 2003. In addition to his writing and market analysis, Gary has been a product, marketing and business operations consultant to dozens of AV companies in the U.S. and overseas. Clients have included companies such as Sony, Sharp, Epson, Lutron, InFocus, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, NEC and Philips.   Gary, who has been involved with the audiovisual market for over 20 years, was the recipient of the InfoComm 2003 Educator of the Year Award and the 2007 NSCA Instructor of the Year Award. Over the years, he has donated much of his time as an active volunteer in the AV industry’s trade association and served as chairman of InfoComm’s Professional Education & Training Committee (PETC), chairman of the ICIA Design School Committee and chairman of InfoComm’s Installation School Committee. In addition, he has served on the InfoComm board of governors. He also helped grow the InfoComm Projection Shoot-Out as the premiere AV industry trade show special event serving on the committee from 1991 through 1997, and was instrumental in launching the Shoot-Out in the European market at the Photokina Expo in 1994 and 1996 as well as the Asian market at the 1995 and 1997 INFOCOMM Asia shows.   Prior to founding his own company, Gary was vice president of sales and marketing for AMX Corporation (www.amx.com), a manufacturer specializing in professional AV and residential AV control systems. Prior to AMX, Gary spent nine years at Extron Electronics (www.extron.com), rising to the position of vice president of sales and marketing. Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1987 from the University of North Carolina and is currently Adjunct Faculty at UNC in the School of Journalism teaching a class on how future technologies will affect the future of advertising, PR and marketing.   He is also the founder of Swim for Smiles, a non-profit that raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital through swimming and other fitness-related events for kids. You can contact him at gary@ravepubs.com..