HP isn't shy about its new Chromebooks built specifically for the SMB marketplace. The sub-$300 machines are seen as appealing strongly to an increasingly connected user base.
Moreover, the appeal is to users who are no longer tied to the Windows-only mentality.
The new Chromebook 11 and Chromebook 14 are presented as fully functional notebooks that have all the features and attributes that business users expect from a portable machine - long battery life, full-sized keyboard, built-in trackpad.
And, because it runs the Google Chrome OS, it's designed around Google Apps and Web-based applications.
HP collaborated with Google in the design of these new machines. They wanted to make the new Chromebooks particularly attractive to SMBs that are looking for full-functioning PCs at a low price without sacrificing manageability.
Businesses have the option of including Google Management Console for centralised administration.
VARs will have access to these Chromebooks as well. Thus far, Chromebooks produced by HP and other vendors have been sold sporadically through the channel -- more opportunistically than strategically.
The new HP Chromebooks, though, were launched with a channel-friendly focus, as HP and Google believe providers will see demand for these devices.
"An opportunity clearly exists in this space, as research from NPD Group has found that Chromebooks have - in just the past eight months - snagged 20 per cent to 25 per cent of the US market for laptops costing less than $300.
"Our experience has seen demand across the B2B space, as more and more of our business customers understand the value of these affordable notebooks," HP said in a statement to Channelnomics.
Interestingly, HP isn't making a full philosophical commitment to Chromebooks. In responding to Channelnomics inquiries about the rationale behind these new machines, HP positions these Chromebooks as complements to other devices, such as more expensive PCs running Microsoft Windows and Apple iPad tablets.
"Chromebooks are ideal for professionals who need to spend a lot of time conducting business on the Internet and using online apps, social networks or web-based email. They are a great companion device to a laptop or tablet, and many employees - especially in SMBs - are bringing Chromebooks into their work environments," HP wrote.
Obviously, HP believes it and providers have an opportunity to capture market share in education. School systems are adopting Chromebooks over higher-end Windows and Apple products because of cost.
By releasing these Chromebooks into the channel, HP hopes to build on that momentum and expand its footprint in secondary and college classrooms.
All this is adding up to bad news for Microsoft. While Windows 8 is selling well enough to be considered a success, the Windows franchise no longer has an iron grip on the OS market.
Until recently, the threat to Windows was mobile platforms such as Google Android and Apple iOS. However, the expanding availability of Chromebooks by manufacturers such as Google, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Acer shows that Microsoft is no longer the only game in thick clients.
Pushing Chromebooks through the channel has the potential of expediting the erosion of Windows' market share.
As part of our special editorial partnership, CRN is republishing this article from Channelnomics
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