Google seems to have Microsoft firmly in its sights on many fronts these days but we never thought the Rugged PDA scene would be attacked so early on.
Rugged PDA’s have been 95% Windows Mobile or C.E. for years. Sure there’s the odd Palm powered one still about and the Janam XP20 or XP30 Series have 2 different versions of the neat little Palm OS but largely it’s been all Microsoft in the industry for years.
Now i’m not actually complaining about this. In a Rugged environment Windows Mobile or CE does the job well. You can build nice usable applications for users that work on tried and tested technology with a pretty big base of help available to you. We’re not all that interested in how the OS works, looks and is designed or how the phone app works here because on a Motorola MC9090, it’s just not important! However With Windows Mobile 7.0 seemingly delayed yet again, See John Paczkowski’s as always excellent article on this, we’ve all seen Windows Mobile take a big beating in the consumer world the past 2 years and, certainly in the consumer market, it has seen rapid decline. Part of this decline has been further fuelled by the uptake of the Google Android OS from key Microsoft partners with Motorola and HTC leading the way and certainly with Motorola, we have a key player in the Rugged PDA Market.
I asked one of our Motorola account managers recently if there was an Android strategy for their Rugged division and he said no but i’m not so sure. You see Windows Mobile is now becoming an issue for some users. No-one wants WM5.0 or even 6.1 because it’s old and they all know the story from the news they hear in the consumer market-place. Businesses are now starting to adopt Android phones as they’re cheaper, offer better more “iphone-like” experience for the user and there’s a demand and incentive to use anything shining star Google comes up with at the moment.
As developers get to grips with this OS, businesses will want to see working throughout their business and as such the demand for the Android Rugged PDA will surely become stronger.
Any truth in this? Bothered at all by it! or plain don’t believe me? Then I leave you with this…We’ve already seen the first Rugged device sporting the “Cupcake” OS in the shape of the Trimble Nomad. This device is a little unusual in that it’s aimed at users who need a device to map with but it’s typically used as a real work house PDA/Phone as well, so the user needs a good experience of the OS.
Big question is, is this a One-Off in the rugged PDA market or are we going to start seeing the Android platform more frequently here at Rugged and Mobile!!