Jamboard or Surface Hub?

It just happens that I work remotely. Have been doing so for a few years. Working remotely has a few advantages and disadvantages. As we know in software engineering there is no silver bullet. One of the disadvantages is the quality and features of collaboration tools (hardware and software).

In my case I use email, telephone and Skype to collaborate with the development team. It would be nice (but somewhat expensive) to have dedicated hardware and software designed specifically for software development collaboration. That said, software development always start discussing ideas. I do not foresee in the reasonable future a single application that would address such a creative process. The following steps design, implementation and testing need to be constantly repeated (i.e., Agile) until the software reaches the required goal.

Being creative in many scenarios is bounded by the artificial 08:00 AM to 05:00 PM Monday to Friday rules. It would be great is such constraints are addressed and we could teleport with the required collaborators to a virtual office in which resources (diagrams, web, documents) are immediately accessible. A setting in which we are able to listen and watch the expressions and demeanor of the development team members.

Well, the two giants, Google and Microsoft have introduced initial products aimed at collaboration. There are different web based products (e.g., Taskworld and Trello) that are aimed a collaboration to some degree. They seem to me more like workflow products.

Microsoft Surface Hub was introduced about a year ago. It is a computer with a touch screen running Windows 10. It comes with 55” and 84” screens. I took a peek at CDW and at the time of this post the prices were $12,449 USD for 55″ and $30,432.99 USD for 84″. You could mount the unit on a wall or have it on a cart. I believe that having it portable is the best choice.

On the other hand, Google launched this month Jamboard. It comes with a 55” touch screen. I believe other sizes are not available at this time. The introductory price is $5,000 USD.

I have not been able to use either tool. Next time I stop by the Mall of America will pay a visit to the Microsoft store. Hope they have a unit available and hope to get a demo.

For what I have read and the few videos that I have watched, seems like the products are similar in concept. They both aim at collaboration. The implementations seem to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Google appears to have started on the low end. On the other hand, Microsoft seems to be on the high end. Both companies have many software and hardware technologies that could be integrated into their offerings making them more attractive to potential user. Seems like they both share the concept of a cloud based product. Perhaps other companies (i.e., Amazon) might decide to venture in this market place.

In the opening paragraphs I mention cost of collaboration units. Further thought should be put into this. If a software development project, or for that matter and other creative type of project (e.g., architecture, hardware, music, video, etc, etc, etc) could be shorted by as little as a month and the number of possible customers increased by as little as 10%, the increase in development savings and additional revenue would allow such systems in the homes of many employees and company sites distributed around a city, country or the globe. It seems like spending a few hundreds of thousands may produce many additional millions in revenue.

Best wishes to both companies in becoming successful with their own products. Many people in the world would benefit from free hand collaboration tools that are easy to use and provide a better interface between humans allowing us to create better products faster.

If you have comments or questions regarding this or any other post, please leave me your comments. I will reply as soon as possible.


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