More Mobility Shake-Ups


Where do solution providers go from here?


If you needed any indication of just how dramatically mobility is reshaping the competitive landscape, you just got it with the back-to-back, double-barreled shotgun news that Google is plunking down $12.5 billion to buy Motorola Mobility followed by the news only three days later that Hewlett-Packard is discontinuing operations for its webOS devices, including its just-released TouchPad tablet and webOS smartphones.

The news has solution providers evaluating where to place their bets in a new mobile solutions landscape. One thing, however, is clear: Every vendor has to develop partnering strategies for playing in the smartphone/tablet device era. Vendors that want to win share in the high-margin midmarket and enterprise segments need to stake out a position with those solution providers charged with securing and managing these new devices.

That means partnering with solution providers such as Carousel Industries, the fast-growing data/voice networking giant that ended 2010 jumping from No. 202 to No. 89 on our VAR500 list, with sales soaring 37 percent to $225 million. James Marsh, the no-nonsense senior vice president of Carousel, spoke with CRN at a customer appreciation event at Boston’s New England Aquarium that attracted more than 100 Carousel customers and top vendor partners like Avaya, Juniper and Fortinet. The event showcased just how much customers are relying on Carousel to supply and service technology so they can focus on winning new business.

Marsh sees the Google-Motorola deal as a game-changer that will result in Google Android-based tablets outselling the market phenomenon that is the Apple iPad by 2013. But what Marsh wants to know is where Google stands with the channel.

“I do not understand where Google is going from a channel perspective,” he said. “I have no idea. I have had no conversations with them. The mobility piece [of the Google business] is going to be part of the enterprise world. Google is going to have to have these conversations.”

Apple also needs to have those conversations with companies like Carousel.

“Apple is not involved in the enterprise commercial space when it comes to communications,” said Marsh. “I get it; they have the iPhone and the iPad and it is cool to have an Apple iPhone and iPad. But I don’t know how they are going to play in the commercial space.”

As for HP, it is absolutely essential that the company step up and communicate with partners regarding its strategy around mobility and how it plays with client devices. HP also needs to address what it means to “consider a broad range of options” for its Personal Systems Group business, including how a possible “full or partial separation of PSG from HP” will affect partners.

“They need to come out really quick and talk about what their plan is for the PC business,” said Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y., HP enterprise partner.

BACKTALK: What do you think of Google-Motorola, HP-TouchPad and the mobility revolution? Contact Steve Burke at steve.burke@ec.ubm.com.