Can Google Partners Sell Chromebooks Against Microsoft's Surface Tablet?

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While Microsoft partners are disappointed the company’s forthcoming Surface tablets will not be sold through the channel, Google partners say Surface may help them as they move ahead to offer Chromebooks to their customers.

Chromebook sales have been modest, but Google partners say they are optimistic the cloud-based tablet will catch on and that Surface will spur interest in tablets.

For the moment, however, Chromebooks are seeing slow sales, according to Tom Mainelli, IDC research director for mobile connected devices.

[Related: 5 Challenges For Microsoft's Surface Tablet]

“Chromebooks have sold very poorly to date,” Mainelli said in an email to CRN. “We don't have a hard number, but between Acer and Samsung we estimate they've sold fewer than 250,000 units worldwide total since launch."

Mainelli added that by selling Surface only through its stores, Microsoft may hurt sales.

“Unless they change that strategy, this is a clear indication that Microsoft doesn't expect to move a huge number of Surface tablets,” he said. “I think this adds credibility to the suggestion that this is more about showing their partners how to make a good tablet than it is about Microsoft outright competing with them.”

A Google spokesperson said the company does not release figures on product sales but added that Chromebooks sales are progressing well.

“In addition to online retailers and direct-from-Google sales, over the past several months we have allowed some of our existing Apps resellers to sell Chromebooks to start to open up the channel,” Jessica Kositz, a Google spokesperson, said in an email. “The channel will be tremendously important to the ultimate success of Chromebooks; right now we’re being very deliberate about how we extend our reach because Chromebooks represent a new way of thinking about computing.”

NEXT: Will Surface Spur Tablet Curiosity Toward Chromebook?

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