Chromebook sales soar: Untapped opportunity for VARs?

Gartner has released figures showing the sale of Chromebooks is on the up. What does this mean for resellers?

Sales of Chromebooks will reach 5.2m units this year and will nearly triple by 2017, according to the latest Gartner research.

The open-source devices have seen a surge in popularity amongst consumers, with their price point being the driving force behind sales.

"Now that the PC market is no longer growing strongly, vendors are searching for new business opportunities. They launched Chromebooks to revive interest in sub-$300 portable PCs once the netbook bubble had burst,” said Isabelle Durand, principal analyst at Gartner.

The overwhelming majority of demand is coming from the education sector, however, Durand believed that businesses were missing a trick. Pointing to areas such as banking, hospitality and real estate, the analyst believed that the true potential of the low-cost laptop has not yet been fully exploited.

"While there is less presence in the business market, and a limited product portfolio for midsize businesses, Chromebooks could open doors to the business market," explained Durand.

Many resellers have been hesitant to incorporate Chromebooks into their portfolio; the general impression seems to be that the products won’t find a place in the enterprise and with such low margins, are simply not worth the effort. However, Gartner believes that the Chromebook will find a niche to exploit.

"By adopting Chromebooks and cloud computing, businesses can benefit; they can shift their focus from managing devices to managing something much more important — their data" said Durand.

There are certainly challenges that need to be overcome in order for Chromebooks to become pervasive at the business-end of the market; for example, many organisations define users policies using Microsoft Active Directory and will therefore be concerned about integrating Chromebooks into their ecosystem.

However, it is these very concerns that resellers should be embracing and converting into opportunities by offering mobility management consulting, security and integration support services.

D&H Distributing and Synnex are two such companies that have spotted an opportunity, becoming the first official resellers of the Chrome Management Console, which allows IT administrators to manage up to 10,000 Chromebooks from a single interface.

For the many VARs that have not given Chromebooks a second look, Gartner’s figures suggest that it might be time to reconsider.

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