Google Partners Eager For Google Chromebooks, But Channel Has To Wait

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Google will keep sales of the upcoming Chrome OS notebooks, dubbed Google Chromebooks, direct for the time being, CRN has learned.

Google unveiled its Chromebooks plans last week at its Google I/O conference in San Francisco. The notebooks will feature the cloud-focused Chrome OS, and are expected to reach the market come June 15. Essentially, they are browser-only netbooks that leverage Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity to access cloud services for applications and storage.

Google partners and resellers have called Google Chromebooks a home run. But, according to Google, the search giant's stable of Google resellers won't get their mitts on the Chromebooks just yet.

"We currently are only offering Chromebooks for Business directly from Google," Google said in a statement e-mailed to CRN. "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."

Google would not say when its partners, which total more than 2,000, will start selling Chromebooks.

The low-end Acer- and Samsung-made Google Chromebooks notebooks will utilize 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of SSD storage, and will come equipped with the Chrome OS, the first commercially available consumer operating system relying on cloud technology. They will range from around $350 to $430.

For enterprises, Google is preparing a Chromebooks subscription service through which businesses can rent Chromebooks on a three-year refresh cycle, with support, warranty and Web-based management included for a monthly fee of $28 each. Chromebooks run the Chrome OS, and Google is teaming with Citrix and VMware to get enterprise apps working on Chromebooks.

Google partners have been salivating for Chrome OS-based notebooks since Google first unveiled the Chrome OS in July 2009.

"We've been asking for this for months: When are we going to be able to get these Chrome notebooks off the ground?" said Crisantos Hajibrahim, head of business development for Los Angeles-based Google Apps reseller ViWO Inc.

Hajibrahim said he'll wait patiently for the channel to get a whack at Chromebooks, as he sees a vast opportunity for partners to drive sales with bundled Chromebooks/Google Apps plays, plus additional services on top of it.

"Our customers are going to eat this up," he said. "This is the name of the game now."

Hajibrahim said he's confident the channel will get its hands on Google Chromebooks soon. But the sooner it gets out there, the more plentiful the opportunities will be. "They need to get it out there," he said.

Hajibrahim said one of the main holdups for getting Chromebooks to Google's channel partners and resellers likely lies in Google putting the infrastructure in place to sell and support them via the channel.

NEXT: Google Partners: We'll Have Chromebooks Soon

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