BT has snubbed its channel partners by releasing a cut-price SME hardware and software bundle, which will be sold only through the telco’s direct and Local Business arms.
The BT Business IT Manager package includes a PC, server and hardware, and uses equipment from vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Intel. The package starts at £37 a month, including initial installation and IT support.
In a statement issued to CRN, BT said: “BT Business IT Manager is designed to provide SMEs with a comprehensive IT hardware, software and support package. It is available via BT’s direct and Local Business sales channels.
“As always, BT manages its multi-channel approach to offer its partners attractive products and services that will drive revenues and profitability for both parties. The viability of offering this service through the channel is currently under review.”
However, Mark Evans, director at BT reseller ME Consultancy, said: “I cannot see why resellers can’t offer the same as BT Local Business. I find this frustrating because I thought the idea of bringing BT’s indirect channels under the BT umbrella was to give the channel a level playing field.”
John Carter, managing director of BT distributor DMSL, said he expects the offering to become available through the channel.
“BT has made a commitment to launch such products to the channel,” Carter said. “BT has talked to us and we are waiting for the launch information.”
Scott Dobson, managing director of distributor Vcomm, which works with BT’s rivals, said: “The SME segment is where the majority of BT’s channel works. I would not be happy if my manufacturer was offering services direct to my customers.”
Alastair Edwards, senior analyst at Canalys, said he could understand why BT’s channel would feel aggrieved at the release.
“This is likely to scare the hell out of some of the VARs targeting the SME space,” he said. “However, it is inevitable that BT would try and position itself deeper in the IT space.”
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