Everyone knows that an independent review is worth a lot more than any paid publicity and when it comes to making a purchase decision people tend to follow the former rather than the latter. This is why I like to read all the latest reviews from The Verge about visual collaboration technology and I was surprised with such a strategic mistake from Google in what concerns pricing, or maybe not.
Manufacturing an interactive display is not that expensive, but everyone knows that creating a visual collaboration product is expensive and the price point of US $4,999 for a 55″ UHD (4K) interactive product is about right. Would the market agree with this? That is the question. If you need a floor stand you can add another $1,500 on top so the total cost of ownership of a Jamboard will be close to the Microsoft Surface Hub 55″ which sells for $8,999 (US).
On April 2015, I wrote about a similar product to the Jamboard – the SMART Kapp: “the idea behind the SMART Kapp is beautiful in its simplicity. But does it really solves a business problem or is it just another gadget that will be part of the office technology graveyard?” But the 42″ SMART Kapp is sold for US $999 and this aggressive pricing strategy was probably what drove SMART, the makers of Kapp and other great products, almost to bankruptcy just being recently rescued by Foxconn, a well-known Chinese contract manufacturer.
What’s a JAM and why should I use a BOARD?
According to Google’s lingo, a “Jam” is a cloud-based collaborative workspace anyone with the right access can join. Is this something really new? Absolutely not. A software maker – ConceptBoard – has already been doing this for ages and it includes HD video conferencing and a number of other collaborative features that are not yet available with the JamBoard. Not to mention many other software products like GroupMap that can convert your meeting room into a powerful collaborative working environment – you can learn more in my next Spanish webinar here.
If you go to your Playstore and look for the ‘JamBoard‘ app, you will see a great video explaining what the JamBoard is: an Android App in a big interactive screen that you can find on a WIFI network and connect to with a mobile app. Unfortunately, I could not find it on my iPhone so I am wondering how IOS users would be joining the JamBoard? I am sure Google will be thinking about this too and a free IOS app will be available shortly.
According to the Verge’s latest review, the exciting thing about the JamBoard is the power of visual interactive collaboration it conveys, however, it is the most expensive flipchart replacement in the market today. Because it is only that – a 55″ ultra-high resolution (4K) digital flipchart.
Google do not envision the JamBoard as a presentation tool nor as a computer on the wall, it is plainly a collaborative whiteboard. But according to what I could conclude from this review, it is still a work-in-progress product. There are many features that are required for serious visual collaboration that are not supported today, for instances, Jacob Kastrenakes points out:
- “Although there’s a built-in webcam, video chatting on the Jamboard is a strange experience. When it’s brought into a video conference, the Jamboard has to pick between one of two modes: broadcasting video from its webcam, or broadcasting what’s on the board. It can’t do both at once, which means you can’t see a person and what they’re writing at the same time.”
- “So instead, you’re supposed to set up another camera elsewhere in the room and use that to actually see each other” (while collaborating on the same jam).
- “The camera’s video quality wasn’t particularly impressive either, and Lauren said audio from the Jamboard sounded quiet and distant”
- “On top of that, the Jamboard’s price is likely prohibitive. Google’s success in the education market thus far has come from its focus on promoting super-cheap Chromebooks, which usually cost under $300. The Jamboard costs almost 20 times as much for a single unit and a year of service.
Would the JamBoard be a successful product?
By all means, I am sure it will. Google has enough brainpower and finance to learn from what the customers require and will eventually get it right. Same for the ‘Bentley’ of the interactive displays – the Microsoft Surface Hub – it will be improved after one year in the market. The price point will lower and many early adopters will find that the true value of these novel pieces of equipment will be in a Museum, pretty much as the Apple Lisa.
However, if you want to be on the safe side with visual interactive collaboration, there are a few better alternatives out there. Between the range of US $8,999 and $999 you will find a number of interactive products. The difficult choice would be to find interactive display manufacturers that offer the best of the two worlds – the simplicity of use and powerful features.
I am thinking about CTOUCH the fastest growing brand in Europe and one of the pioneers in this field. This Eindhoven-based company has been around in the interactive display market since 2012 and since then has learned a lot about this market and the visual collaboration needs of the customers.
As a result, this company presents today two very distinct product lines to respond to these two different market needs:
- The LASER Air which we could say is a ‘Jamboard equivalent’ (the truth is the opposite because the JamBoard appears afterward, right?). These displays ship with a built-in Android operating system but they have the advantage of being complemented by an Easy Air PC module so the users can have a Windows 10 experience and have a real PC on the wall.
- The Leddura 2meet which is a ‘Surface Hub’ equivalent, is by default a true PC on the wall with built in Skype for Business and advanced screen sharing functionality for all types of OS.
Smart innovation walks the walk.
Hard learned lessons are the best assurance for you to have a company that can give you an high-quality product and the extent of this high-quality is the steepness of the learning curve endured when it comes to finding a solution for customers’ problems.
CTOUCH’s innovation is based on a number of critical elements including, of course, listening to what the customers need and currently don’t have. The products evolve based on users’ demand and the company relies on the Android and Windows 10 community of programmers to offer the best visual collaborative environments in the market today. This is probably why CTOUCH is the fastest growing brand in Europe and now expanding to the Americas.
The main difference with the attractive piece of equipment that is the JamBoard today is that it was developed straight from the desks of Google’s highly skillful programmers and engineers and backed by Alphabet. So let’s see how the real customers in the real organizations will respond to that. But all in all, we should be pleased by the boost in demand for visual collaboration that new products such as the JamBoard will generate. Definitively, all successful companies worldwide today need to collaborate more both visually and interactively. So, let me wish our warmest welcome to the new kid in town.