Google Chromebooks can generate profits for partners that focus on SaaS and cloud integration projects. Just ask Cloud Sherpas. Here are five examples why.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chromebooks, those cloud-centric notebooks, often carry low price tags that won't generate much partner profit -- at least not at first glance. But if you take a closer look at the Google Apps ecosystem, you'll see at least five ways that channel partners can generate recurring revenues from one-time Chromebook sales. Here they are.
A growing list of PC companies -- Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Samsung -- now makes Chromebooks. Google itself offers the higher-end Chromebook Pixel -- though early reviews say Pixel is no match for sleek notebooks like Apple's MacBook Air.
Here They Come
Still, low-end Chromebooks seem to be carving a niche for themselves in schools, colleges and even in U.S. households that want low-cost second computers. As The New York Times recently stated, the Chromebook laptop concept:
"has some extremely compelling aspects. As I wrote in November, it’s a fast, silent, light, beautiful laptop — for $250. The catch, of course, is that a Chromebook has no hard drive and very little storage; it’s exclusively for online activities. It’s great for Web, e-mail, YouTube and apps like Google Drive (free online word processor, spreadsheet and slide show programs). For $250, many people might find a fine value proposition in the Chromebook as a second computer."
So where do channel partners fit into this conversation? Instead of focusing on the hardware sale, partners should consider Chromebooks as a potential extension to cloud- and SaaS-oriented engagements. Five potential examples include:
1. Google Apps Integration: School of Rock leverages Google Apps for Business. The company has 90 company-owned and franchised schools across the U.S. and Mexico. Cloud Sherpas, a Top 100 Cloud Services Provider in 2012 and cloud services brokerage, assisted School of Rock with the deployment. Visit a location, and you'll see School of Rock employees leveraging Google Apps for email, student scheduling and more. Oh, and by the way: Those School of Rock employees increasingly use Chromebooks for their endpoints.
2. Google Apps Marketplace: If you're a VAR trying to get your arms around cloud applications the the Google Apps Marketplace is a good first place to start. Here, you'll find a range of third-party applications that are Google Apps-compatible. From accounting and finance to workflow and school-oriented Apps, these solutions can extend easily out to Chromebooks.
3. Cloud Alliance for Google Apps: Founded in 2011, the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps includes independent SaaS companies that integrate with Google Apps. The alliance members focus on administration tools, project management apps and more. And many of the members have channel partner programs.
4. Test/Dev: If your customers are writing cloud apps and want to test real-world performance, then Chromebooks running the Chrome browser can be an ideal testbed.
5. Shared Systems: Schools often deploy extensive fleets of laptops and notebooks that kids can share throughout the day. The laptops are stored in libraries or wheeled around the school in secure storage carts, some of which have charging station capabilities. Assuming the laptops are web-centric learning tools rather that don't require Microsoft Office and other local applications, then Chromebooks could be a low-cost alternative.
How else are channel partners monetizing Chromebooks within the broader Google Apps ecosystem? The VAR Guy is poking around for more examples.