So after a well earned break from just about everything, other than a few family and friend commitments, we’re back and looking forward to a fabulous 2015. Keeping with our rugged technology tradition, i’m going to kick things off with a look at what’s going to be hit and miss this year.
I always love doing this post because you never can know and I meet so many different people with so many opinions on a constant basis but they all distil down into a few trends so here’s our top 10 rugged and mobile predictions for 2015.
Last year we saw a big focus on smaller, lighter, more smartphone-like devices that were still rugged. I think this year will see this trend push on hard as more and more people understand that ruggedness can come in a small, inexpensive and light package.
Mass market was all about everyone having the same, fitting in if you like. Before that we had the cottage industry which was pretty much bespoke. Today we have technology + cottage which means we can deliver bespoke solutions to each and every customer. I think as we see agile taking over the world in the shape of 3D printing, bespoke software and a gadget built for any purpose, we’ll see a huge shift towards suppliers who can flex and truly deliver bespoke solutions to customers, each and every time. How else is your business going to compete? Did you really think having the same as everyone else was the way to do it?
What I mean by this is that big huge devices are no longer what we see selling. Batteries are getting better and better delivering huge power in tiny sizes, technology is getting smaller and people want familiar, thin, light but rugged devices. Android is further fuelling this and we’ll see the typical rugged PDA change into something a lot more like the smartphones we use every day.
7″ screens are too big, 3.5″ screens are too small and even the classic 4.3″ screen is now unwanted by many but at the same time having 2 devices for your employees is out of the question too. So step in the 5/6″ phablet screen that will rise out of the LCD screen size battle as a one size fits all solution.
I think we’ve seen a big backlash in super cheap devices in the Enterprise and business. 2014 saw a big rush to buy cheap £100 devices but businesses have realised that cheap = downtime and zero support. As much as i’d like to go back to selling £1000+ devices, the answer will settle somewhere in the middle. We see a big year for £300 rugged devices that are business focussed like the Raptor series of devices.
With so many manufacturers now all offering something different, there’s simply too much to handle for 1 reseller in my opinion. We’ll see the rugged market commoditise fully in 2015 which will bring about some big changes to suppliers. Expect more buyouts, expect the bottom and top of the market to squeeze the middle and expect a couple of big surprises!
You only need to talk to Apple or Samsung to know that Tablet sales have fallen through the floor. There are still businesses that require tablets but i think the rise of the Phablet will see 7″ and 10″ tablets sales hit hugely this year.
Business Customers want solutions now that just work in the mobile world so expect to see the cloud based market mature significantly in 2015. Everything that businesses need will be delivered as a cloud based service and fewer solutions will be installed on site as the drive to outsource and focus on your own business gets hotter.
We’ve been banging on about this for a couple of years now and with Apples recent partnership with IBM we’re going to see Apple enter the Enterprise market in earnest this year. Will this make Apple a competitor to rugged integrators like us or will it provide a platform we can use, i;’m not sure right now but one thing I do know is that things will change in our industry hugely.
So we all know Windows Embdedded 8.1 is here, which is the natural successor to the Windows Mobile line of operating systems and it will be interesting to see what happens and opinion seems split into 2 camps. Firstly there’s the “well everyone’s backends are Microsoft and there are a lot of businesses who will want to upgrade to a pure Microsoft solution.” But there are also a lot of businesses who have seen the pain and reality of upgrading to newer Microsoft products and found IOS or Android easier.
Me, I think Microsoft will flop this year in the Rugged market in much the same way as they have in the mobile one generally, there’s simply not enough communication, help or support for the new OS.
So there we go, i’d love to hear your views, you can call me out on that in 12 months time!