AOpen, Synnex Open Up Education Market For VARs

The San Jose, Calif.-based supplier of barebones systems and components to the custom-built market wants to combine its manufacturing capabilities with Fremont, Calif.-based Synnex's distribution base to tackle the opportunities now available in education, said Rick Haddad, AOpen's national sales manager.

AOPen is offering a full range of support to custom-system builders looking into education./font>

"With budgets being cut at the school level, we feel there's a need for another player other than Dell and [Hewlett-Packard]," he said.

Under the PC Population Program, AOpen will supply three new barebones systems to Synnex. The systems will include a motherboard, keyboard, mouse, speakers, 17-inch CRT monitor and choice of midtower, black midtower or slim chassis. Synnex will provide a choice of processor, memory, hard disk and optical storage to the solution provider, which will do the final integration.

The systems can be sold to schools for about $40 to $50 less than comparable HP or Dell systems, said Haddad.

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Ron Sakurai, associate vice president of component product management at Synnex, estimated that with a 2.4GHz Celeron processor, 256 Mbytes of memory, a 40-Gbyte hard drive and Windows XP Home Edition, the system should cost the solution provider less than $500.

AOpen and Synnex are definitely looking at a key vertical for system builders, said Rick Ruggles, vice president of Access Interactive, a Novi, Mich.-based system builder. "Schools are being financially driven because of shrinking budgets," he said. "They're trying to squeeze every dime."

How well the two do will depend in part on pricing, said Ruggles, who noted that a $40 to $50 price delta may not be enough.

"Dell, HP, even Acer America are very, very aggressive," Ruggles said. "So for a reseller to swing a school away from a brand name, that delta has to be bigger. The delta between white box and branded PCs is shrinking."

AOpen also is offering a full range of support to custom-system builders looking to tackle the education market, Haddad said.

Among these are an express replacement program under which the solution provider can send a problem system to Synnex for instant replacement, Ruggles said.