Almost one year after first launching its business-focused Surface tablet hybrid, Microsoft today announced it would open up the device to the Australian channel.
Microsoft released the Surface RT model in October last year in line with the debut of Windows 8. It arrived in Australia through Microsoft's online store soon after, but Microsoft's local channel was cut out from selling the device.
It did open the tablet to retail partners, but not until nearly two months after the initial launch.
The software giant's Surface Pro model was launched globally in January, but didn't come to Australia until May 30. Again, Microsoft left its channel partners out of the party.
Only Microsoft's retail partners JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman have been allowed to sell either device, until today.
Microsoft revealed exclusively to CRN in late August it would disclose details of its Australian commercial channel plans in the next few weeks.
Today it announced select channel partners had now been authorised to stock both devices. The Surface Pro and RT will be available through distributors Ingram Micro and Synnex, along with 13 handpicked resellers:
- Brennan IT
- Computer Systems (Australia)
- Data #3
- Datacom Systems
- Dimension Data Australia
- e-Volve Corporate Technology
- Insight Enterprises
- Staples Australia
- Stott & Hoare Business Computers
- The Somerville Group
- Triforce Australia
Microsoft said it selected the above partners based on their "precise geographical reach, device selling experience and commercial value-added services capabilities."
Head of marketing at Brennan IT Robin Marchant told CRN working with channel partners "could have helped [Microsoft's] sales".
"By allowing the channel to promote [Surface], that's a great route to market."
Not doing so "probably inhibited a degree of their growth", Marchant said.
Microsoft's decision to bypass the channel and sell predominantly through its online store played a part in the company's Surface RT-related US$900 million write down in its financial quarter ended June 30.
Recently Microsoft announced price cuts of up to $100 across both devices.
Microsoft is expected to unveil next-generation versions of both Surface models at the end of this month.
More to come