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Selling PCs and now mobile computing devices was never an easy business to be in. In fact, making money selling those types of systems has never been harder.

At the same time, however, the way end users employ these devices has fundamentally changed. Instead of having one standard notebook or desktop system that was selected by the internal IT organization, end users are exercising much more direct influence over what systems they actually use. Arguably, if an organization doesn’t support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices outright, we’ve certainly entered a pick-your-own-device (PYOD) era in which IT offers users a much broader selection of types and classes of devices from which to choose.

Vendors have responded to that change by creating product portfolios that have much more diversity, said David Schmook, president of end-user computing for Dell. Case in point: Dell offers lower-end tablet devices based on Windows 8 and Google Android operating systems alongside a Dell Venue 8 7000 Series tablet that Dell claims is not only the thinnest tablet available, but also features a 2,560 by 1,600 organic LED (OLED) display.

Given all the device diversity in the market today, solution providers in the channel would be well advised to alter how they approach selling PCs and tablets. Much like there are app stores through which organizations make a select group of applications available to end users, so too is there an opportunity to create a similar “shopping” experience for a select group of PCs and mobile computing devices that have been pre-approved by the internal IT organization.

While it may be tough making money selling boxes these days, if solution providers can identify end users who are more likely to demand higher-end PCs and tablets, the opportunity to make some real money will present itself, Schmook said.

Of course, the real point of this exercise should go well beyond the box itself. The solution provider that delivers the hardware clearly has the inside track when it comes to selling applications and providing management services. Naturally, that becomes much easier to do if the original shopping experience was both engaging and memorable in the first place.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.