Dozens more UK Microsoft resellers will be able to get their hands on Surface tablets next week as the vendor makes good on its promise to open up the channel, CRN understands.
Microsoft initially recruited just nine authorised device resellers (ADR) when the tablet first launched in the channel in 2013, adding another six – and removing one – in April this year. The current line-up consists of: Insight, SCC, Misco, Softcat, Kelway, CCS Media, Computacenter, SoftwareOne, O2, Academia, XMA, PCS Business Systems, Storm and Total Computer Networks.
At its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in July this year, Microsoft said it was ready to open up distribution globally and let more resellers in on the action.
Previously, just 150 resellers globally could sell it, but some 4,500 will be able to shortly, the vendor previously announced.
CRN understands that Ingram Micro and Tech Data – which were appointed as distributors for the product line in 2013 – will have 51 new ADRs on their books from 1 September, although Microsoft has yet to comment on the claims. This will push the total number of ADRs in the UK to 65.
Update: Since CRN went to press, Microsoft confirmed it was increasing its ADRs on 1 September by 41, to make a total of 55 in the UK
"The first [resellers] were [part of] a pilot, which was running for quite a long time," one source, who did not wish to be named, told CRN. "The criterion from Microsoft originally was to select a group of partners who would do a good job for them. The partners were a combination of niche but mostly mass players like Misco.
"Now they have deemed that to be a success and established there was sub-distribution going on, with people who wanted the Surface forced to buy it from those partners. Now they have taken submissions and opened it out," the source said.
CRN understands that several hundred resellers initially expressed interest in selling the tablet to disties Ingram and Tech Data, which then whittled them down to a list of 60 resellers before sending it to Microsoft, which finally settled on a list of 51. This group of resellers will be able to procure the Surface tablet from Ingram Micro or Tech Data from next week, sources claim.
The newly appointed ADRs will be subject to the same Microsoft programme benefits as the original 14, with the same marketing money, rebates and price points available to them, one source said.
Joey Hemingbrough, director of business development at Microsoft partner AAG, said the general strategy to open up distribution is good for the channel.
"I think it's a positive move. A lot of the resellers are frustrated that they can't sell the Surface because they get clients requesting it and it's not very nice for any reseller to have to pass business to anyone else. So I think it's a brilliant move and it will make a lot of resellers happy," she said.
One partner already on the ADR programme, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It's their product and they can sell it however they like. They have aspirations of hitting certain numbers, and good luck to them; I think the market is big enough."
When contacted, Ingram Micro was not available for comment and Tech Data said it was not able to comment on the matter. Microsoft was not immediately available to provide a statement.
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