In its second year of exhibiting at InfoComm, Microsoft is new to the industry. The Surface Hub will compete with many integration firms’ go-to collaboration solutions.
Distribution partners are very limited, although they can look to meet requirements and satisfy an authorization process to buy through distribution. The announcement begs the questions:
Is Microsoft potentially taking money out of the vast majority of AV integration firms’ hands?
Is Microsoft committed to the integration market?
“To be frank,” Laezza says, “one of the discussion we had internally is how committed is Microsoft? And we’ve asked them.” The response he added, is that Microsoft sees enormous potential for growth in conference rooms. “This technology unlocks the power of the group. They’re forward looking in a good way relative to supporting this notion of collaboration [in places] where tablets don’t do it. [Microsoft] owning it and owning this space is pretty disruptive.”
The integrators that resell Microsoft Surface Hub won’t be getting rich on margins, Laezza acknowledges. “I’d say they’re consistent with the margins in the IT industry. Definitely not the AV margins.”
To focus on margins, however, belies the opportunity, Bottcher says. “The money isn’t made on margins. AVI-SPL is all about the meeting. That’s the way we approach it for our customer. For us, [Microsoft Surface Hub] enhances our offering. I honestly think this is a pretty big game changer. We’re excited to be at this pivot point and look forward to what’s coming next.”
It’s hard to tell what will come next, Bottcher adds, acknowledging that it will be interesting to revisit after Microsoft Surface Hub is deployed with clients. “But we believe Microsoft is going to sell a lot of these. Being associated with something like that, we’re pretty pumped about the prospect of where we do make our money on the service side. We see a great opportunity for a company like AVI-SPL to capitalize on.”