While Chromebooks are typically underpowered compared to most business-class notebooks, the devices have emerged as a popular form factor in the education market, specifically K-12. Vendors and distributors are taking notice; just about every major PC manufacturer, from Acer to Samsung, has introduced a Chromebook model.
In addition, Synnex this month was named the first distributor authorized to offer the Chrome Management Console to channel partners. The Chrome Management Console, which was previously only available through Google, is a web-based tool that allows solution providers to manage and deploy thousands of Chromebooks.
Eddie Franklin, vice president of sales, Public Sector and Vertical Markets at Synnex, told CRN that Chromebooks have applications beyond the education market -- but stressed that there's enough business to go around for both Chrome and Windows.
"We don't see this as an "us versus them" situation [between Google and Microsoft]," Franklin said. "We think there's room for both. And there's absolutely an opportunity for PC resellers to explore Chrome."
As for Android, the opportunity may be more complicated. While the fast-growing operating system is hugely popular on tablets and smartphones, it's not designed to go without a touch-screen interface -- and touchscreen-based AIOs have yet to take off in the corporate world.
"Businesses just aren't ready for a new kind of interface like that," Hertenstein said. "In fact, that's the only reason we see resistance from clients for Windows 8 on desktops. It's an OS that's built for touch, but they don't want a touch-screen interface on their desktops."
As for migrating to Windows 8, Hertenstein said it's still a work in progress. While the Windows 8.1 update has helped increase interest in the OS, En Pointe still sees the majority of Windows 8 deployments on notebooks and tablets with little upgrade action on the desktop (most Windows XP desktop migrations have gone to Windows 7, he said).
"I have not talked to a single organization yet that's 100 percent committed to Windows 8," Hertenstein said.
Is that leaving the door open for Google? In some specific industry applications or lines of business, Brown said, lower-end Android and Chrome systems can replace Windows PCs. Google's platforms still don't have the enterprise functionality to compete with Microsoft in the PC market, he said, but the ease of use and attractive total cost of ownership will keep Android and Chrome in the discussion until such time that they can compete in an enterprise environment.
"It's not quite happening yet," Brown said, "but in a couple years I think it's going to be huge."
PUBLISHED JAN. 29, 2014