Ingram Micro Canada ramps up mobility business

Steve Roberts, vice president of mobility at Ingram Micro Canada

Steve Roberts, vice president of mobility at Ingram Micro Canada

A new executive, a new acquisition, and some new solutions are making Ingram Micro Canada’s mobility business a growing part of the mix for the distributor.

Late last year, the company introduced Canadian mobile industry veteran Steve Roberts as its first vice president of mobility, part of a growing focus on mobility. Four months into his new role, there is a lot going on in the business.

Ingram has quietly acquired Burlington, Ont.-based Global Mobility Products, a provider of returns management for mobile vendors and retailers, part of a larger push to offer full supply chain support for mobile product vendors. The acquisition was announced to the company’s Canadian channel partners at last week’s IMone event in New Orleans. The intention, Roberts says, is to build a whole supply chain around the retail of unlocked mobile devices in Canada.

“Nobody has ever done that in Canada, and the Canadian market is ready and waiting for it,” Roberts said.

The plan will be to offer both exclusive devices, and the logistics and reverse logistics for those devices, as well as a collection accessories for those devices. While the company is not yet disclosing hardware, carrier, or retail partners for the effort, Roberts said he’s had multiple conversations with all parties, and is confident that Ingram will be lauhching in the near future.

“It could go very big, very quick, up to about 500,000 handsets per year. That would be a nice problem to have,” Robert said.

While handsets remain largely a carrier and retailer discussion, Ingram does have a number of solutions in mind for its traditional VAR audience. The distributor is currently offering an exclusive bring-your-own-device offering with partner Globo dubbed Enterprise Mobility in a Box, targeted at SMB customers.  And beyond that, Roberts said Ingram will introduce a “tablet-as-a-service” model for VARs to offer their customers, likely by the third quarter of the year.

“We want not just any tablet, we want a connected device – something we can put a SIM in, something we can build a solution around,” Roberts said. “For a big deployment of tablets, there’s a great opportunity to make it an opex vs. capex discussion.”

The model would include Ingram pre-configuring tablets with approved enterprise apps for customers, and shipping them out to end users on behalf of the reseller. Notwithstanding the seeming slowdown in tablet sales this year, Roberts said the distributors thinks “there’s a real business opportunity around tablets.

A hardware partner has not yet been announced, but Roberts said the focus will be on providing something unique to the Canadian market.

“We want to deliver things that aren’t in the marketplace today,” he said.

Mobility is widely seen as a top new frontier for “traditional” IT distributors. Tech Data has its own efforts in its TDmobility business, and Synnex is building out its mobility business with a new focus on machine-to-machine.