With the deluge of new “Collaboration Boards” that will hit the market over the next six months (this was the most popular launch product at ISE this month), there’s no question that Microsoft will have to cut the price of their Surface Hub. They can’t keep ripping people off at $8,000 — $9,000 (55″) and $20,000 (84″) a pop — considering the limited functionality compared to the newbies on the market.
Although both are 4K resolution, the need for a 4K collaboration board at 55” is more of a novelty than a requirement. Even at 55” and standing next to the board, you can’t discern a technological advantage to a 3840×2160 resolution monitor versus a 1080p one. But, as most of the forthcoming collaboration boards that will hit the market will be 4K too, that presents an even bigger obstacle to Microsoft.
Most of the new collaboration boards launches at ISE that were in the 55” range (by the way, that’s where Microsoft sells more than 80 percent of them) too and nearly all of them carried a $5,000 price tag. That’s including Google’s Jamboard, which was hidden upstairs in the BenQ booth. And, it’s way, way simpler to use than Surface Hub as well as has a much nicer user interface. Maybe not as many features, however, but all the features everyone is asking about. And, then you still have a plethora of other companies with collaboration boards too — all aiming at Microsoft, companies like Avocor, Cisco, NEC Display, Newline, Sharp and Google.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you can’t sell a collaboration board for $8,000. Not at all. But, look at the features of the Surface Hub. There’s nothing revolutionary there — and, if you’re in ProAV, why support them? They are selling most of them (yes, MOST OF THEM) through SaaS enterprise resellers — not AV resellers.
All the while, Cisco has invested heavily in the ProAV channel through exhibiting at ISE and InfoComm and set up an AV channel training and certification program; Avocor has set up Almo Pro A/V exclusively in the USA and distributors all over the world — choosing to sell primarily through commercial AV integrators rather than through IT resellers; NEC’s been in ProAV forever; Sharp has always aimed all its sales efforts at the AV-centric channel and Newline wouldn’t be in business without us.
OK, granted, Google is an unknown — but, they’re distributing through BenQ. And, it’s only $5,000.
So, all of these products are either cheaper than the Microsoft Surface Hub or have exclusively AV-focused sales channels. So why even support Microsoft when you have so many other choices?