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Google Jamboard: A New Contender in the Collaborative Display Market

The competitive landscape of meeting room collaboration solutions over the past two years has changed rapidly where tools to facilitate this collaboration were extremely fragmented with vendors of displays, software/content, videoconferencing (VC) hardware and wireless presentation devices working in isolation of each other. However, the common standards used by many of these vendors allowed for their independently developed products to be integrated creating a complete solution. One key development in this solution is the growth of the interactive flat panel display (IFPD) market, which Futuresource expects to grow by 34% year-on-year by the end of 2016, reaching 916,000 units. By 2020, this figure is expected to reach 1.2 million units, indicating a 2016-2020 CAGR of 22.2% for IFPD.

IFPD has partly evolved into a multi-featured, all-in-one display solution that allows VC, interactivity and content sharing, effectively bridging many of the gaps between VC players, display vendors and wireless presentation solution providers. While Microsoft's Surface Hub solution (launched in early 2016) may not have driven the evolution of IFPD into an all-in-one collaborative display solution, its marketing and launch were critical in increasing awareness of such solutions.

On 25th October 2016, Google announced the Jamboard: a 55-inch 4K interactive flat panel display aimed at the corporate market. Jamboard claims the distinction of being Google's first hardware product announcement since the company's rebranding of its G Suite of cloud-based applications (e.g. Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs). Jamboard is currently only available to business customers of G Suite on a private beta testing basis but is expected to become available to the public by mid-2017 with a price tag below US$6,000.

Unlike its Chromebook product that went to market via third-party OEMs such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo, Google is in partnership with BenQ, which provides the panel. Through this partnership, Jamboard will be sold through BenQ's channel network in the Americas.

Jamboard itself is designed to facilitate collaboration in the corporate space using Google Hangouts, permitting up to 50 participants in a "Jam" session. Video calling is possible with Jamboard featuring an integrated HD camera, speakers and microphone. Its interactive functionality supports both pen and finger touch and content sharing is permissible in a Jam via iOS and Android devices.

While Jamboard has many similarities to Microsoft's Surface Hub, it does have notable limitations such as users being unable to contribute to a Jam through a desktop/notebook computer but rather only through the G Suite mobile apps on iOS/Android devices as well as Chromebooks. Desktop/notebooks may only view a Jam via a web browser. Jamboard does not allow the installation of third-party applications nor are Jam participants able to review sessions or embed video, though the latter is a possible future development.

Despite having some limitations against Surface Hub, Google's G Suite of cloud apps, 4K resolution and finger touch interactivity present Jamboard as a clear competitor to Surface Hub with both devices being IFPDs with an integrated camera and audio inputs/outputs, particularly with Jamboard undercutting the 55" Surface Hub. Will potential customers be enticed by Jamboard over Surface Hub with the former's lower price point despite the difference in functionality? 

Will the likes of Cisco and Polycom be inclined to create their own IFPD solutions in the near future or will they partner with existing IFPD manufacturers?

About the author

Darren Taylor

About Us

Here at Futuresource Consulting we deliver specialist research and consulting services, providing market forecasts and intelligence reports. Since the 1980s we have supported a range of industry sectors, which has grown to include: CE, Broadcast, Entertainment Content, EdTech and many more.