It took a few years, but Microsoft’s Surface line has finally taken off. But while most people think of Microsoft’s tablets, laptop, and now desktop, when it comes to the Surface, the company’s giant Surface Hub isn’t doing too shabby.
The company isn’t sharing the exact number of units sold, but says that its 55 and 85-inch computers have seen their best sales numbers yet. In the nine months since the devices became available, the company has shipped units out to “over 2,000” customers with an average deal size of 50 units, but its largest order was 1,500 Hubs to a “large car manufacturer.”
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The company claims that customers are seeing ROI’s of about 138 % (according to a February Forrester study) thanks to the Surface Hub; said study estimated that the Surface Hub saved 15 – 23 minutes per meeting.
Expensive as the computer is, it’s not too hard to see why – it’s an all-in-one communications and brainstorming device, omitting the need to set up projectors and whiteboards and hook up laptops. There’s a reason why Google is getting into the business too.
To help build on that momentum, Microsoft is ramping up production of the devices and introducing a try-and-buy program for the hub through its retail partners, allowing potential customers to use the unit for 30 days before committing. The program is launching in the US and Europe to start, with Asia coming later.
Meanwhile it’s introcing a few useful new features for the Hub. Word, Excel and PowerPoint are getting inking support (kind of surprising they didn’t already), and you’ll be abel to use touch and pen at the same time in order to do things like create straight lines with a virtual ruler (other Surface devices could do this already).
You’ll also now be able to save and load your Whiteboards right through OneDrive so your brainstorming sessions can be shared easily and saved for later. Finally, Microsoft is adding support for some third-party accessories so that you’re not tied to the included hardware.
Of course, most of Microsoft’s momentum has been in its consumer Surfaces. Microsoft says November was its best month yet for Surface sales, tied into the fact that “more people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever.” Microsoft isn’t providing specific numbers, but it seems the stylus will continue to live on.