A Rugged and Merry Christmas!

21 12 2010
A Rugged PDA Christmas from Rugged and Mobile

A Rugged PDA Christmas from Rugged and Mobile

We’re revamping the blog next year so its even more and informative as well as expanding into other exciting areas that all put the Rugged PDA at the heart of your business and reusing technology that you have already invested in.

Tracking, Kiosking, device management and behaviour reporting are all on the cards for early 2011 so check back soon as we push on into the new year!

As always your feedback is really important to me so if you have any requests, ideas or just want to as a question then just get back to me at info@ruggedandmobile.com

Many happy returns

Dave and the RAM team.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Rugged Handhelds in Adverse weather conditions

20 12 2010
Rugged Handhelds in Adverse temperatures

Rugged Handhelds in Adverse temperatures

The adverse weather has really had the UK suffering yet again, non more than me first getting stuck in Europe and then in my own office!!  This week has seen us working with a lot of rugged handhelds and RFID equipment in very low temperature environments where we would not normally be so low. In fact we’ve been hitting working temperature limits on some kit with -10 degrees being easily surpassed some mornings and evenings the past few days.

It made me draw a parallel with the UK weather and all the tricky balance our government has over whether to invest more in winter weather equipment that might not ever be needed again.  Like the UK weather, the minimum operating temperatures of Rugged PDA’s and data capture equipment simply isn’t usually something that’s as well-considered as other elements of “Rugged” when buying Rugged Handhelds or barcode scanners and yet, this week we have actually even been seeing some equipment struggling to function correctly.

With global warming slowly being accepted as the new reality, the UK will actually become colder as the lovely warm Gulf stream collapses so we had better get used to this and perhaps pay a little more attention to minimum operating temperatures of our devices!!

Those lovely warm warehouses, courier vans and depots have simply not been warm enough recently and if the devices stop working due to cold your business suffers.

So what can you do to stop this from happening?

Well Firstly keep your equipment out of the cold.  You can buy heaters, some specific to the device that keep it warm for the minutes of usage you need it for.  You will be amazed at how warm your pockets are too!

Secondly keep it charged up.  Battery performance is particularly hit by the cold so make sure you keep your equipment in top charge condition.

Thirdly don’t leave your equipment in the cold, especially over night.  The storage temperature may well be -40 but when you want to use equipment left in a cold warehouse at -15 all night it might take you hours to get it into the operating temperature range again.

Lastly try to keep your device dry.  It may go down to -20 on a spec sheet, but funny things happen to rugged handhelds if they are subjected to ice.  For a start the casings can suffer and crack, glass may become more brittle and frozen moving parts can break more easily.  IP ratings are one thing, cold is another but together they can be a nightmare.

Just a few little things for you to consider!


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Top 10 Rugged PDA Trends for 2011

9 12 2010

Rugged PDA activity has been vibrant, despite the downturn (or reset) as I like to call it and with 2010 drawing to a close I wanted to share some of my opinion and thoughts on what 2011 will hold for the Rugged PDA market.  Here’s my top 10.

1.  Reduced Big Brand Loyalty

People have quite rightfully lost big brand trust.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a bank, car manufacturer or a Rugged PDA supplier, people feel cheated by the big established brands causing the recession and taking their jobs and people are looking for a change.  There’s a lot of very very good emerging brands out there, that we’re seeing people try to love and this trend will gain momentum through 2011.

2.  Shift to Fully Rugged

As mobile solutions, become simply “The” solutions, people have realised that they need something dependable to build their mobile solution on.  Smartphones are like building your platform on PC’s, Rugged PDA’s are like building it on Servers and all but the most budget conscious have realised this now.  We’ll see steady but strong market capture by Rugged PDA’s in the enterprise mobile solution space.

3.  Semi Rugged

Having said that, there are plenty of people out there who are looking for a jack of all trades, or want a rugged PDA but simply do not have the budget.  Step in the Semi-Rugged PDA with PDA’s like the BM170 from Pidion remaining strong we’ll see strong growth and new devices here in 2011.

4.  Reseller Expertise and the birth of Rugged PDA Brand Advocacy

Brand advocacy has arrived and customers will be looking for the advocates that can give them good, impartial and broad advice.  Manufacturers will be unable to do this, simply not having the experience or motivation to know about rival devices and implementations and the Knowledge driven Rugged PDA Reseller will form the backbone of the market place.  It’s not enough however to just “know” your stuff.  It will be the Resellers who freely share their knowledge who will win.

5.  Cradle to Cradle use of Rugged PDA – Convergence of applications

Cradle to cradle as it is being coined is about a shift from the “buy it cheap and throw it away” culture to the environmentally friendly reusable culture of tomorrow.  The Rugged PDA is perfectly positioned to be the central device that will run your whole suite of solutions.  As we have seen convergence of hardware like Cameras, GPS, Scanners and Phones, we’ll see convergence of the solutions that run on these, removing things like dedicated tracking hardware and various other data capture hardware from customers solutions.

6.  Rugged PDA Healthcheck

We’re already seeing accessory interest from accessory makers and as the Rugged PDA become more popular and central to the way we will work but the Rugged PDA heal will be key to maintaining a good solution.  Device management and device health and habit reporting will grow to align with these increasing needs.

7.  Mobile Phone and Rugged Split will widen

With Windows Phone 7 being a completely different product to Windows Mobile (and let me tell you its a pig to develop at the moment) and with Microsoft committing to a “Rugged OS” of some nature, our vision of one OS across your platform will fade and we’ll see Rugged PDA’s sticking with an open, developer friendly device meant for business, with the Enterprise phones being clever, innovative, iPhone-like but flaky!

8.  Threat of rival Operating Systems

We saw 3 rugged PDA’s certified with Google Android this year and we’ll see more as Droid seizes the opportunity to give customers 1 OS across their whole business.  We could see Microsoft’s grip weaken making life great for customers but hard for resellers and suppliers as they strive to clue up on more kit.  See point 4 again!!

9.  Screen size over Keyboard

Software will remain key to the mobile platform, as will gloves, Signature capture and lost stylus’ will to the industry.  Larger screens will be seen, following suit with the Smartphone market and the PDA and Numeric keyboard will be the mainstay.  We’ll see small screen, qwerty keyboard devices struggle to cope with the demands of mobile software innovation.

10.  Projects Increase

We’ll see customers wanting to run project based rollouts instead of buying “phones” where the Rugged PDA reseller will be cornerstone f the project and the gatekeeper to many other technologies including network, data, and cloud based services.  As trust builds up with the right Resellers we’ll see adoption of products from them become the standard.  People are looking for 1 person they can trust, price pressure will ease in favour of expertise and the successful projects will use a trusted mix of reseller solutions not a plethora of bits and bobs from multiple suppliers.

There it is, straight from the resellers mouth, some it I hope turns out true, some of it I don’t but what I do know is that 2011 will be a great year for the Rugged market and its customers.

Come talk to me if you want to chat more about anything Rugged!


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Rugged PDA Market trends for 2011

8 12 2010

The rugged PDA is a great tool for your business and we could have told you that the Rugged PDA market is strong, however confirmation from wireless Logic shows this to be a market that is maintaining growth (albeit small!) in a time where others are contracting.

I want to explore a few key areas to show you why customers are seeing the why Rugged Handhelds are the right way to go.  Firstly Rugged PDA’s are becoming the choice for established projects who have come to realise and rely on their mobile solutions.  There is no doubt that we’re seeing more and more established customers who are looking to refresh their Mobile Computer hardware to underpin existing long running mobile solutions.  People have literally gone out, tested the water with £300 smartphones, seen how well the mobile solution has worked for them and now need something that can run their platform reliably.

Although more expensive, with a Rugged Handheld costing on average about twice that of a non-rugged smartphone, you’ll start to see savings straight the way with reduced support cases, less down time and quicker and more appropriate support for when accidents to hardware can’t be avoided.

Add to this the cost savings a mobile computer platform will bring in the medium to long term.  Not only will you reduce fuel costs, your carbon emissions, paperwork and employee time leading to cost savings and happier employees, but you will also have a solid foundation on which to drive innovative new ideas that will increase your bottom line too.  No wonder people are seeing the benefits of Rugged PDA’s!!

I also think people are genuinely starting to understand convergence on Rugged Handhelds too.  You no longer need to have a separate camera, barcode scanner, GPS unit or even RFID reader.  It can all be found in one device, that can do it all without the complication of multiple hardware and multiple manufacturers.

The increase in Machine to Machine (M2M) centred solutions is also driving the need for Mobile computer.  We now live in a world where web and mobile services talk, consume data from each other and present it into knowledge with the need of human intervention.

We’re especially seeing growth in the tracking sector too where there is a shift from vehicle tracking to “people” tracking, driven by legislation and innovation and the Rugged PDA is perfectly centred for this use.

Add to this the dominant changes we have seen in the world that the recession, or “reset” as I like to call it, has brought.  We are seeing the end of the “Ownership/purchase” era and are entering an era where people want to be greener, want to re-use and recycle more and want to be more cost restrained and you start to see the trend.

One last comment I would make is that the recession has also brought a new lack of trust for existing brands who are seen to have not only caused but even selfishly benefitted from the recession.  Brands like Motorola, Intermec, Psion and Honeywell will be affected by this as people turn to newer, fresher brands like Pidion who will be given their chance to gain the customers trust.

We specialise in expert Rugged PDA advice here, especially in these emerging brands so come talk to us if you want to learn more and buy with confidence.


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Motorola ES400 and the problem with O2

1 12 2010

So the Motorola ES400 is now available on O2 on contract and I have promised our community a candid article on this so here it is!  These are facts and also my views and opinions on them so please take the article as you find it and of course if you want to talk further then you know where we all are!

What is the O2 deal?

We rang them up when we found that some of our established current customers (whom we’re talking to about MC55’s) have been actively marketed to via O2 and Motorola, we’re a bit miffed as are many rugged PDA resellers.  They are offering an ES400 for £160 on a 24 month £30 per month contract.

Does this change the scenario for the ES400?

Well yes it does and the difference could be the success of your business.  What Motorola have tried to do is tell everyone this is a rugged pda but then sell it like a mobile phone.  At best it is sending out a garbled marketing message, at worst it has caused so much confusion and argument in the Rugged world and with our customers that to some it could be seen as misleading.

It changes the positioning of the ES400 away from a Semi-Rugged PDA to a Rugged Mobile phone.  The difference is stark and you will see major risks to your solution if you are trying to run a business critical solution on a mobile phone based platform.

Why would you buy a Semi-Rugged PDA on contract?

  1. The up front cost is unbeatable and not attainable by a Rugged Reseller, we’re stuck with the distribution pricing for SIM Free unlocked devices.
  2. The pricing might enable you to get your purchase of phone through an easier budget.
  3. If you want a slightly tougher mobile phone to give to your workers to use as a phone or for email then OK, this is fine.

Why is it dumb to buy a semi rugged pda on contract with alone O2?

  1. It’s a question of putting anything business critical into the hands of a network provider.  If our business O2 service is anything to go by then the service and support from O2 will be dreadful compared to a rugged reseller whose business depends on great service.
  2. When you get a problem, you will be a small customer, talking to people who do not understand Motorola or their processes, who have not built up the right relationships over the years, who are not Rugged PDA experts and who are probably not passionate about or even taken the time to play with the device at all.
  3. The network deal is 2 years long, you will not be able to get out of it and if you want to upgrade to something more rugged you will have to look for someone else to help you.  It is a short-term view.
  4. What happens if you suddenly need more rugged devices, who handles the support now? who do you go to?
  5. From my experience no-one has talked to the client about service or support on these devices.  It also seems that O2 are dealing with device issues themselves in the “Insurance” manner meaning you are putting your solution at greater risk with refurbished units with different serial numbers coming back every time you have a problem.  Device management hell!!
  6. We can supply any contract through far better service providers at a far reduced price than O2 can provide.  Don’t lock yourself in, we’re already speaking to people who have just tied their business critical solution in with this kind of deal and they are seeing their business being put at risk and they can’t get out.
    There was a fantastic opportunity to have a community of Rugged PDA experts position this device into an emerging market, fixing all the issues it has (remember the MC35 Motorola!!) and establishing it as a potential leader in the field.

With the Semi Rugged PDA market growing fast this was a real opportunity to forge ahead into this market, however by side stepping the Rugged PDA reseller community like this it will ultimately undermine the ES400.  We’re already seeing issues with the device but due to the manner it is sold we simply will not be able commit to putting these right.  If anyone remembers the problems the Motorola MC35 had then just be very very aware of the risk you are taking.  They were only fixed through the dedication of the rugged reseller community and this is probably not going to happen with this device.

My advice is to treat the ES400 as a mobile phone, like any other HTC or Acer smartphone.  If you want to base your business critical application on a mobile phone and haven’t learnt yet that this is not the way to go then call O2 or go on EBay, save some pennies up front and good luck.  If you want a rugged solution then go talk to some in the rugged PDA market who will offer expertise, knowledge and be there throughout for you.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

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