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.