Microsoft’s surprise hardware hit: The Surface Hub

(credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has hit a hardware home run that surprised even the people in Redmond. The Surface Hub conference room PC turns out to be selling like hotcakes, surpassing everyone’s expectations.

When Microsoft launched its Surface Hub conference room computers about a year and a half ago, we weren’t entirely sure what to make of them. On the one hand, they offered a smart mix of video conferencing, digital whiteboarding, and collaborative working with a price that felt surprisingly low—$6,999 for the 55-inch version and $19,999 for the 84-inch version. On the other hand, meeting rooms are where old technology clings on to the bitter end; VGA ports are still abundant, clunky video conferencing systems are the norm, and for many companies a whiteboard is as high-tech as it gets.

There were initial signs of strong demand. Microsoft delayed the release, from September 2015 to January 2016, claiming that higher than expected demand (in particular of the 84-inch version) meant the company needed to change its manufacturing capabilities. The company also hiked the price of both models by $2,000, to $8,999 and $21,999—another move suggesting that demand was healthy.

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