Microsoft's supersized Surface Hub appears to be a hit

Microsoft says it's sold Surface Hub conferencing systems to more than 2,000 customers since March. Oh, and it's got the supply problems under control.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley
2 min read

Microsoft has kept a tight lid on shipment numbers for its Surface-branded devices. But on Monday, the tech giant provided a few data points around demand, especially for its Surface Hub conferencing systems.

The Surface Hub -- a huge touchscreen display equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and built-in microphones and cameras -- launched in late March 2016, after months of delays and a price increase.

In the subsequent months, demand outstripped supply for the device, available in 84-inch and 55-inch versions. Customers reported backlogs of months, if not longer, before they could take shipment of their Surface Hubs. (Again, we don't know what the supply or the demand were, exactly, as Microsoft doesn't release those figures publicly.)

Microsoft's Surface Hub is a hybrid of epic proportions (pictures)

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In a blog post Monday, Microsoft said it has shipped Surface Hubs to more than 2,000 customers in 24 markets, with the average deal size being approximately 50 units. One large car maker ordered 1,500 units, according to Microsoft. A Microsoft spokesperson later notified me the company had clarified its statement, adding the words "in the pipeline" to reflect that not all of units in the average deal have been sold through or shipped yet.

The company's statement now says: "The average deal size we see in the pipeline is approximately 50 units but we've seen orders as large as 1,500 units to a large car manufacturer."

Officials also told me the product is no longer out of stock.

"Regarding shipping, Microsoft is at scale and inventory is ready to ship Surface Hub now," said Julia Atalla, senior director for Microsoft Windows and Devices, in an emailed statement.

Microsoft officials said they'll be adding a Surface Hub try-and-buy program "this winter" in the US and Europe, and "later" in Asia Pacific. Resellers, the list of which is not yet available as far as I can tell, will be authorized to provide customers with Hubs for 30 days before they can decide whether or not to buy.

Surface Hub is Microsoft's successor to its large-screen Perceptive Pixel displays. The systems, which run a custom version of Windows 10 , are preassembled, customized multitouch, digital-ink-enabled collaboration tools. Microsoft first unveiled the Surface Hub in January 2015, with availability initially slated for September 1, 2015.

Google is aiming to release its own Surface Hub competitor, the Google Jamboard, in the first half of 2017.

Microsoft officials also said Monday that November was the company's "best month ever for consumer Surface sales." Again, we don't know how that translates into units. Officials said the company's trade-in program for MacBooks for Surface devices "was our best ever," citing "the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro -- especially among professionals," as the impetus.

This story originally posted as "Microsoft: Surface Hub demand is strong; product is now in stock" on ZDNet.