Google Chromebooks Pre-Sale Starts, Partners Still Waiting

Google Chromebooks became available for pre-order this week, giving consumers a chance to buy what Google and others are touting as cloud-based notebooks that leverages the Web for applications and capabilities via Google's Chrome OS.

According to Google, the Chromebooks officially went up for pre-sale this week. "Nothing but the Web: Samsung & Acer Chromebooks now available for pre-order from Amazon and Best Buy in the U.S.," Google Chrome tweeted Thursday.

Partners have been champing at the bit to get a whack at selling Google's Chromebooks, which are being made by Samsung and Acer and are expected to be officially available next week. But despite Samsung making its Chromebook available today, Google resellers will continue to wait.

"…[O]ur partners are an important part of our enterprise strategy and we look forward to working with the channel to extend the reach of Chromebooks," Google said in an e-mail to CRN this week. "As we've said, we plan to work with our partners, who provide a variety of value added services to our customers, to build out a reseller program for Chromebooks later this year."

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Google partners have been vocal about their wanting to get Chromebooks into their arsenals immediately to storm the market with a new hardware and mobility model many say will change the market.

"We're all disappointed that we can't sell them today," said Tony Safoian, president and CEO of SADA Systems, a North Hollywood, Calif.-based solution provider.

The pre-orders for the Acer- and Samsung-made Google Chromebooks notebooks range from $380 to $500. The Google Chrome-powered notebooks utilize 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of SSD storage, and will come equipped with the Chrome OS. For business users, Google is teaming with Citrix and VMware to get business apps working on Chromebooks.

Also for enterprise users, Google will offer 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.

NEXT: Google Chromebooks Are The 'Zipcar' Of Computing

And Safoian is not alone, shortly after Chromebooks were announced partners said they were eager to get them in-house and start offering them up to clients.

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

And some solution providers aren't waiting for Google. Westborough, Mass.-based Google partner Cumulus Global, formerly Horizon Info Services, provider has launched support for Chromebooks, through which its professional services team will assist with the planning, deployment, and support efforts for Google Chromebooks.

Safoian said SADA is preparing its business model to accommodate Chromebooks later this year. He said the devices offer a new model that eliminates the need to spend thousands of dollars on desktop and laptop deployment.

"They came out with this desktop OS … and it challenges the way people think about desktop computing," he said.

Safoian said the market opportunity for Chromebooks has yet to fully form, but if Google's past successes with Android, which in just a short time grew to have the largest market share among mobile operating systems, are any indication Google is on the right track.

The difference, Safoian said, is that while Android was adopted from the bottom up, Chromebooks will be adopted from the top down. He called it the "Zipcar" model for computing, where a user can pick up any Chromebook, log in and access applications and data via the cloud, like Zipcar members do when they want to use a car.

"I have less of an attachment to the device," he said.

Still, Safoian, like other Google partners, will have to wait to start selling Chromebooks, as Google has yet outlined its channel plans for the devices.

"I wish we had earlier access to it as partners," he said. "It just can't come soon enough for us."