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May 11, 2011
Here’s a question that could take several years to ultimately answer: Can VARs and managed services providers (MSPs) compete successfully against Google Chromebook for Business, a complete hardware and software service that will cost $28 per user per month? The Google Chromebook for Business service, which will include either a Chrome OS notebook or desktop box, is set to launch June 15.
And at the present time Google has no plans to introduce a channel partner program for the service, according to a company spokeswoman. Updated, May 11, 8:48 p.m. eastern: Google has changed its statement and now says certain partners will be able to offer Google Chromebook for Business. The updated statement greatly impacts my thoughts on Google partner opportunities, hence the blog changes below. The statement reads:
“We currently are only offering Chromebooks for Business directly from Google. We plan to expand this product to sell through our Google Apps partners who provide a variety of value added services to our customers but have no other details to announce at this time.”
Has Google just abandoned the channel? Careful. Let’s not jump to conclusions. The Google Apps Authorized Reseller program continues to grow. And I’ve bumped into dozens of MSPs here at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. Many of those MSPs are shifting customers to Google Apps and related offerings from the Google Apps Marketplace.
At first glance, there’s no little opportunity for VARs and MSPs to sell or profit from the Google Chrome for Business service. But I think Google Chromebook for Business will be limited to niche status at least for the next few years. Early adopters will likely be K-12 schools, colleges, non-profit organizations and vertical market customers that want simple kiosk applications from the cloud.
Some resellers may complain about Google Chromebook for Business being a mostly direct sales play. But at $28 per user per month, there is likely little margin for Google to pass on to resellers anyway.
Instead, the key channel opportunity for Google partners remains Google Apps Script and other cloud integration work. Stitch together cloud applications and you’ll remain strategic to end customers… indefinitely.
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