So we’re going back to our roots this week, raising the “Rugged” flag as high as we can get it and getting down and dirty with what businesses are looking for in a mobile device. What I wanted to do was look at the top things business look in a mobile device  as series of articles, starting today with a look at what commonly comes in top; and that’s the Quality/Reliability requirement.

What does quality / reliability actually mean?

Well, despite this coming up top in most of the surveys we have read, it is indeed a bit broad so we sat down and thought long and hard about this and then asked our customers to make sure we approached this right and we came up with a 4 general meanings for these words:

Usability

This is how usable a device is and it’s becoming more and more important just how easy a mobile device is able to be used without specific training.  These days in a world where everyone has a smartphone, you can understand why businesses choose iPhones or Android based smartphones.  User familiarity and usability can have huge costs on business where there is a lack of them and with new Android based rugged PDA’s coming onto the market every month now I think the rugged manufacturers have finally reached this tipping point and accepted that business users want a smartphone style experience.

Build quality

So lets spend £1500 per device on a super rugged PDA and that’s, that’s then! Well no, not quite as customers cited that iPhones were great build quality too. It turns out that indeed an iPhone does have great build quality, in much the same way a Mercedes car does and a certain class of customer pointed out to us that we aren’t all driving to work in JCB diggers!  So what’s this all about then?  Well scratch deeper and you start to find out that it’s not necessarily about hardware and how “well built” a device is, it’s about how well it’s brain is put together too.  Everyone that’s ever owned an iPhone for example knows that you get it out of the box and it takes you through a wonderful journey after which it is magically set-up! It then never (rarely!) goes wrong. Your email is reliable, the phone works well, you can text, do social tasks and everything you need with ease and it just works.

Yes firmware goes wrong but its put right quickly and this is what’s meant by quality and reliability.  Does a Windows mobile or Android rugged PDA have the same level of build quality when talked about in these terms?  Well yes for some who need ruggedness, but it might be debatable for someone not so interested in pure ruggedness.

Quick repairs

Businesses need tools that are clever and do complex things for them, however complex pieces of electronics need to be kept running and put right when they go wrong.  The service/repair requirement was probably the largest factor in the 4 factors being spoken about here and this is where Rugged devices win out.  Business customers need good honest, transparent service and repair that will last the life of their kit.  They need proactive help to stop things going wrong and where the aim is business up-time, I think being in the Enterprise rugged market is 100% where a business needs to be. Only caveat is that this must assume that the device build quality is good enough.

Hybrid use

Now there are customers who install one locked down application onto their devices and they do 1 thing for their whole life and really well. However as Mobile becomes ubiquitous in the world of business the device is being asked to do more and this was deemed as a quality and reliability requirement.  The top things that came up for Rugged PDA’s were that they needed to be used as phones they needed to be used for texting, emails and also to access web portals when required. This all increases the RAM and ROM and CPU usage of a mobile device, it also means they have to be of quality ion all areas, not just a few.  Rugged kit of old for example simply didn’t have the quality when it came to voice calls.  So you might think an Android based smartphone has it here but not so.  1. It was also cited that rugged devices have many data capture additions to them which also enable more hybrid use when it comes to data capture and 2. Rugged devices are now becoming more like smartphones anyway so you are getting the best of all worlds.

So there we have it, what I wanted to do was share an insight into some of the research and discussions we’re having with manufacturers and customers a-like and I hope you use the information to the benefit of your businesses.

As always comments welcomed!

www.ruggedandmobile.com

 

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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