Google's Jamboard Aids Enterprise Brainstorming Sessions

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Google on Tuesday announced Jamboard, a digital whiteboard for collaboration in the cloud. It's compatible with G Suite and Google Search, as well as Google Drive. Users can collaborate and broadcast their work globally through Google Hangouts.

Jamboard has a 55-inch 4K display with touchscreen functionality, a built-in HD camera, speakers, and WiFi connectivity.

Jamboard's touchscreen can differentiate between the stylus and the eraser. It also can sense when someone uses a finger to erase content from the screen rather than write on it.

The stylus and digital eraser don't require batteries or pairing, Google said.

The Jamboard will be available for purchase next year at a price point of less than US$6,000.

An early adopter program will enable Google to fine-tune Jamboard for G Suite customers.

Jamboard appears superior to other whiteboards because "it looks tightly coupled with Google productivity apps," said Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

"Since many people are already knowledgeable about Google collaboration, this seems like a logical extension," he told the E-Commerce Times. Jamboard "is perfect for distributed work environments and for offices that still have office parks."

Jamboard "is rather slick, and that will appeal to cutting-edge companies," Jude remarked. "The cutting-edge feel to this thing may attract companies that might have gone with more traditional collaborative approaches."

Including collaborative versions of the more advanced tools that specialists require, such as CAD solutions for engineers, would make Jamboard even more valuable, suggested Jim McGregor, a principal analyst at Tirias Research.

"A tool like this should be huge for engineers, who naturally love whiteboards -- but you have to have the tools, and all parties involved need to have the platform," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"It helps expand Google's presence and recognition as a hardware system provider, especially for enterprise solutions, but this isn't going to be a breakout product for Google," McGregor said.

The demand for such a device is "rather limited," he explained. "It doesn't really enable anything new -- it just makes everything easier by integrating all the tools and interfaces into a single platform."

Among the challenges it would present are convincing the IT staff to purchase, install and maintain it; making it available in all the locations that need it; and retraining people to use it, McGregor said.

Products like the Jamboard "aren't enterprise class devices -- they're point solutions ... like printers, copiers and scanners, better sold by firms that meet point needs and have other, similar products to sell," maintained Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

"The only large firms that likely could sell these well are firms already selling other document-related solutions, and Google currently isn't one of those," he told the E-Commerce Times. "This is one more case where it looks like Google just doesn't get the enterprise."

"Right now, the gold standard for this use is likely the Surface Hub, because it blends a variety of technologies into what's likely the most advanced conferencing board on the market," Enderle suggested.

Google's approach with the Jamboard "is far cheaper, but it leaves out a ton of features, like videoconferencing, which are necessary to make a current-generation connected board make sense," he added.

The Jamboard "reminds me a lot of products we had 10 or so years ago that could store and forward what you wrote on them," Enderle said. "This one ties into Google's back end better, but I'm wondering where the last decade went."

While the demand for connected whiteboards "has never been very big," the Jamboard "does tie into Google's overall strategy of indexing the world," Enderle pointed out. "What's done on this board will be captured, recorded and indexed, and that's a value."

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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