Much of the hype around devices based on Google’s Chrome OS has been around education. And that’s been for good reason, because especially in the U.S. market, Chromebooks have carved themselves out a substantial niche, particularly in the K-12 market, where the appeal of cheap and easy devices with fewer parts for young students to accidentally damage has made the devices very attractive indeed.
Another major part of that success has been the Google Chrome Device Management dashboard, an interface that allows end users — or resellers — to manage Chrome-based devices at a fleet level, controlling everything from apps to WiFi, and providing an route for managed service providers to take over device management for clients. Chrome Device Management has proven popular with distributors as well, and D&H Canada is the latest to pick up the service, which has been offered for around a year by its U.S.-based parent, and is also on offer from a number of other Canadian distributors.
The Google-designed dashboard is seen as the key for B2B Chrome deployments, and while that has typically meant schools, D&H Canada says there’s channel opportunity far beyond schools with Chrome devices at this point.
“Chromebooks without the console is seen as a standalone, lower average selling price device. But the console is putting them into the business realm,” sand Randy Churchill, business development manager for D&H Canada. “It’s a much more valuable tool once you add in the device management, and we’re looking at it as an SMB opportunity.”
Mike DeKok, director of purchasing at D&H Canada, called Chrome a growing segment for the distributor, and one that it believes will accelerate, particularly in that SMB space.
“Over 88 per cent of of Canada is small business, and that’s really the sweet spot for D&H’s reseller base, and the sweet spot for Chrome,” DeKok said.
Along with the management tools making it something that can appeal to both end users and to MSPs, Chrome is getting a boost in the arm from a new generation of products that don’t look or feel like first-generation Chrome devices.
“When Chrome was first launching, you were looking at an 11-inch screen, mostly. But now your’e up to 15.6 inches with some manufacturers, and you’re competing with non-Chrome devices. This is a business-ready device now,” Churchill said.
The focus on small business parts with some of the initial channel money-making plans around Chrome, which meant large fleet rollouts making up for the cheaper individual units. But already, Churchill said, the company is seeing solution providers figuring out ways to “monetize 5- to 10-unit rollouts” and other small business deployments, by offering a bundled service that includes the Chrome hardware and device management for a monthly fee.
“Chomebook is an important device, but it’s the endpoint of the solution,” he said. “It comes back to understanding the right way to implement the whole solution, and I think that expertise is the value-add.”