Christmas gift ideas for the VAR in your life

Nick Booth looks at some of the more original techie gifts on the market this year for the VAR who has everything

By now, everyone knows about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But nobody mentions While You Were Out Wednesday. This is the day we  discover that they couldn’t make the delivery because we were out.

It’s followed by Shuffle Saturday, when we have to waste our weekends skulking in a series of slow-moving queues at various grim depots.

If you don’t bring your passport, driving licence and utility bills, you’ll have to come back and waste even more of your precious life waiting in line.

It’s far better to get your goods sent to work. You can get away with it now because it’s secret Santa season and you’ll be expected to take a few deliveries at work, because everyone’s forced to buy appropriate presents for a random colleague.

What sort of office present do you get for generation BYOD?

Why not get them something to go with their tablet? A Monkey Tail is a neat idea. It positions your tablet so you can read anywhere – whether you’re cycling around Silicon Roundabout, shouting into your phone at the airport or sitting at your desk. It’s a long, extendable lead that is strong enough to hold an iPad in front of your eyes but flexible enough to make any position possible. 

Also making a stand for the table addict is the Whale Kit, which adjusts to a variety of typing and viewing angles. Slip the tail between your fingers for a comfortable handle. An industrial-grade vacuum suction system makes it solid as a rock.

One of the great unreported scandals surrounding the iPad is how easily the screens crack and how much it costs to repair them. These various animal tails could cut the cost of breakages. The vendor,, is looking for UK resellers, incidentally.

One reseller, Ideal Computing, has already capitalised on the fragility of tablets. It’s launched a service called SimplyFixit especially for all the corporations who have to fork out for screen repairs to tablets. Surely that would be a good secret Santa gift - a ‘get your tablet repaired free’ card. Maybe resellers should start thinking about offering this service to their clients.

Another consequence of the BYOD trend is that everyone carries a dozen gadgets. A hunchback has become a status symbol. Unless you’re weighed down with smartphones, tablets and satellite gadgets, you’re nobody in a big corporation these days.  

AyeGear recognises this and has started making work clothes specially designed to house all the gadgets that deranged executives feel they have to carry around with them. They concentrate on ‘office casual’ and ‘dress down Friday’ type attire such as hoodies, fleeces and combat trousers. This is the uniform of the executive when he’s out of a suit and just ‘being himself’ and wearing exactly the same as all his colleagues.

The AyeGearTM H13 is a hoodie with 13 separate compartments designed to provide wearers with security and accessibility to all their valuables, gadgets and travel essentials.

They don’t make suits, yet, so there’s a gap in the market for any canny resellers to exploit. How hard could it be to get a tailor to knock up business suits with 13 different pockets?

If you’re thinking of trying to emulate the AyeGear model (and they are market leaders in casual, wearable computing inventories) then you have a lot of catching up to do. AyeGear has high quality stitching and strong zips, the better to secure iPads, MP3s, smartphones and all kinds of touch-sensitive devices.

Don’t forget to create a packet for a portable satellite beacon. What do you mean you’ve never heard of one? These pocket-sized gadgets are a must have for the executive who likes to yomp across the mountains raising money (and their personal profile) for charity.

The perfect gift for them would be a Spot Gen3, which keeps the lines of communication open, even when you’re way off the mobile map. Whether you’re sailing, snowboarding or just handing out your business card on top of a mountain, this satellite powered personal GPS messenger will deliver. It can do all kinds of clever things, including automatically updating your location on Google Maps. Look at me everybody, I’m raising money for the officially-sanctioned corporate charridee!

They’re looking for dealers, so Gavan Murphy, director of marketing at Globalstar, might be worth a shout. Let’s face it, he’s got no excuses for not being available.

If you’re going up a mountain, you might need some other forms of protection against getting soaked. In which case OtterBox might be good inspiration. It makes all kinds of screen protectors and other device-saving accessories for the BYOD generation. You could wade across a lake with your mobile in your pocket and Otterbox could keep it dry.

Talking of connectivity, surely IT companies are missing a publicity trick by not making their Wi-Fi open to the public when they are not using it. When the office is closed, why not allow people to use the company Wi-Fi? Any firm could turn it into a publicity coup by making the password some kind of marketing message. If you are a Netgear reseller for example, make the free Wi-Fi password “Netgear AC Gives You More” or something. That way, more people might be interested in buying a Netgear R6250 Smart Wi-Fi Router and getting the most out of their new 802.11ac-enabled smartphone. It’s a subtler way of telling the story than lecturing customers about how their new HTC One Max or Samsung Galaxy S4 won’t deliver the full benefits of 802.11ac unless they upgrade their current router.

So there would be self interest in this publicity grabbing, free Wi-Fi scheme. You’re giving something away in order to gain something valuable yourself. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Or am I missing something?

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