The rugged vs consumer debate has been an on-going technology discussion in the channel with a number of businesses choosing consumer devices over their superior rugged counterparts on the belief that they are more cost effective.
The issue we see is that while investing in rugged technology is a long-term investment for the true value to be fully realised, businesses are taking a short-term view on spending based on their immediate budgets. When the cost of rugged devices are compared to their consumer grade counterparts, businesses see the consumer device as a radical cost saving.
What isn’t considered is that three years on the consumer devices will have cost far more than forecast due to failure rates and breakages in comparison to rugged devices that have been specifically designed to handle critical working environments.
“A consumer-market tablet cost of £550 including a ‘rugged’ case would typically return an annual field failure level of 25%, and possibly more, when used in demanding working environments. A purpose-built rugged tablet will cost £1,500 with a three-year warranty and support package, and have an expected field failure rate sub-3% over that three years. That’s three times or so the initial cost, but a significant improvement on operational life expectancy, and minimum down-time in the field.” – Peter Molyneux, UK President, Getac
Failure rates of consumer grade devices can be as high as 30% a year, yet businesses still perceive them to be the most cost effective. What businesses don’t recognise is the cost of disruption and inefficiency that impacts the workforce due to downtime.
Rugged mobile devices are designed from the ground up to withstand harsh environments and have many integrated components such as barcode scanners, digital cameras, GPS, WAN, LAN radios, and Bluetooth. They are also designed to be fully functional in extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain and cold working environments where users wear gloves, or bright sunlight. This functionality is often overlooked when businesses are seeking to deploy new devices.
This video of the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-E1 and FZ-X1 is a brilliant example of how rugged devices are built specifically for mission-critical mobile workers, and highlights where consumer grade devices fall short.
The brand-new ALGIZ RT7 ultra-rugged Android tablet delivers powerful performance at an excellent value. With a super-fast processor, long battery life, total ruggedness and a host of built-in features, the ALGIZ RT7 offers heavyweight field performance in a lightweight tablet package.
You’ll enjoy a streamlined, sophisticated Android user experience — complete with the multi-touch interface you’re used to — that’s enhanced by the reliability of a chemically strengthened, sunlight-readable touchscreen. The ALGIZ RT7 is tested to survive any harsh fieldwork environment, and offers a wide range of connectivity options to support you on the job.
With the iPad Pro – which goes on sale Wednesday – Apple takes another step to try to better capture the enterprise market. But the specs and software included on the tablet raise one question: Who exactly in the workforce is this device for?
The iPad has, of course, had success in the enterprise before this “Pro” stamped effort, as executives have always loved it for light browsing, and some companies that have employees on their feet much of the day, such as airlines and retailers, buy them in bulk for mobile computing.
But tablet sales have slowed in recent times. IDC said in July that the market is down 7 percent year-over-year, with Apple in particular down 17.9 percent worldwide. Starting with its partnership with IBM last year and including a more recent arrangement with Cisco, Apple appears to hope that a focus on the enterprise might turn around its fortunes in the tablet market.
So is this new premium model enough to reinvigorate the company’s presence in the space? For the enterprise, adopting a new device is all about the use cases, and what exactly those are gets a bit confusing with the iPad Pro, according to Rich Mendis, co-founder of app development platform AnyPresence.
For Mendis, the iPad Pro exists in a quasi-enterprise state in that its hardware, specs and price all point toward a machine that can go up against other enterprise-focused tablets, like the Surface Pro, or even some laptops. But he said Apple has hamstrung the device with its mobile operating system, iOS.
“If you look at what applications content creators actually use in the enterprise, none of those applications run on iOS. Whether you’re on the creative arts side and use things like Photoshop or Illustrator. Or, Apple’s own position is that it’s great for video editing, but the reality is professional video editors use things like Avid Media Pro or full blown Adobe Premiere.”
Mendis further said that even regular office workers who access programs like Microsoft Excel can’t use an iOS tablet to access power user features like macro functions. All those apps listed have simplified versions available for iOS, but none with their full version’s capabilities.
That relegates the iPad Pro to a content consumption device, a status it will retain unless Apple brings the fuller OSX to the device or vendors start to create special full versions of iOS apps, the latter of which is uncertain.
“If it looks like a laptop, and smells like a laptop, it is a laptop – in terms of functionality – and therefore it’s targeting serious content creators that require it to run serious apps, which it can’t,” Mendis said.
All that adds up to a confusing device for both experts and the market at large. Even Apple itself has offered mixed messages in the lead up to the device’s release about who exactly it’s targeting.
Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview with The Telegraph said the peripherals and the digital pencil lead to use cases for creatives. Meanwhile, Eddy Cue, an Apple senior vice president, told CNN Money he thinks of the device as more for consumers of media rather than creators.
Still, one expert, FBR & Co. analyst Daniel Ives, told AppleInsider he sees an upside for the new tablet.
Apple has long relied on introducing new product models to boost revenue. Ives said that he thinks the iPad Pro will sell enough based primarily on it being the first Apple product focused on the workplace to see the iPad category jolt from 10 percent of the company’s total revenue to 15 percent.
The introduction of this new member of the iPad family will certainly attract some new business based on brand alone. For Apple, a “Pro” model aimed at the enterprise may have felt like the most natural evolution of the tablet and it may hope that design novelty – at least to its own product set – will carry the day.
After a few weeks, we’ll be able to see how and how often those pros use the iPad Pro for real work.
By the end of next year, 4.8 billion people globally will use a mobile phone, and smartphone subscribers will represent 46 percent of the global population, according to predictions by Forrester. The growth will be driven primarily by Africa and Asia.
Among the key findings: In 2016, consumers will begin to demand a more streamlined experience on mobile devices, and brands will start to notice. U.S. and European consumers will begin to catch up with their more demanding Asian counterparts when it comes to how they interact with companies on mobile.
“Consumers will continue to spend most of their time in only a few apps (e.g. Facebook, Google Maps, WeChat), but will increasingly turn to aggregation apps and a handful of platforms to get the content and services they need,” Forrester analyst Julie Ask said.
Those platforms will deliver a stream of relevant content and services, so users never have to leave the app. For providers without the scale or stickiness of a social network, or the utility of a Google Maps, expect user interaction to fall off a cliff in 2016.
Forrester also expects more than 25 percent of companies to change how they use mobile when it comes to interacting with customers. Also, they will get better at measuring and tracking the impact of mobile on and offline.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, mobile will influence about $1 trillion in spending in the U.S. this year.
An example done well, according to Forrester, is Facebook’s Atlas partnership that connects mobile ads with in-store point-of-sales systems by tracking consumers across their various devices. Expect smart merchants to increasingly adopt this type of technology, Forrester said.
And don’t discount Google: “Google has some of the best cross-channel tracking capabilities because they own the mobile operating system on most smartphones, plus Maps, Google Now, Search, Gmail, etc., that offer so much information around purchase intent plus location,” Ask said.
Mobile and tablet commerce will hit $142 billion in the U.S. and $92 billion in the European Union, Forrester said, representing 38 percent and 32 percent of online transactions, respectively.
Convenience, trust and new technology will drive adoption of digital wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Enterprise apps to hit a new high
Next year, more than 60 percent of people who control companies’ decisions and budgets around mobile expect to invest in apps that will boost productivity. Employees at global enterprises who use these solutions for work are 50 percent more likely to report that colleagues are happy, and 40 percent more likely to report customer satisfaction.
Forrester puts brick-and-mortar businesses Walgreens and Target among the smartest retail leaders when it comes to developing employee mobile apps, along with Amazon and eBay.
The travel, financial services and insurance industries are also aggressively adopting mobile to support employees. A few leaders include SPG, Marriott, United, American Airlines, Bank of America, Progressive and State Farm.
Internet of Things and beyond
Digital platforms will leverage data from smartphones and devices connected to the Internet of Things to improve services. Next year, expect Amazon, Apple and Google to invest aggressively in product and service development to capitalize on the trend.
When it comes to delivering services when and where consumers want them, Forrester expects alternative ecosystems, beyond Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, to emerge. That’s already starting to happen, with relatively new apps such as WeChat in China, and Facebook Messenger in the U.S. accumulating vast audiences and rich data about consumers.
“In 2016, these ecosystems will grow as brands look to serve existing customers in context and developers flock to platforms with large audiences,” Forrester said.
In additional to the usual mobile suspects Apple, Facebook and Google, big players might also include some unexpected players like Microsoft, Amazon, or some companies abroad, according to Ask. Alibaba, Xiaomi, Baidu, and Tencent are all potential players in the war to control new and emerging ecosystems.
Mobile M&A to skyrocket
Internet giants like Facebook and Google will look to expand their mobile audiences via acquisitions in order to reach specific demographic segments, geographies or markets.
Forrester suggests streaming music player Spotify would be an ideal target, and that Yahoo could be of interest to a major digital platform.
Enterprise mobile companies will consolidate, and expect enterprise tech giants like Adobe, Amazon, Cisco, HP, Intel and Salesforce to shop for smaller players like enterprise mobile application companies like AnyPresence, Appcelerator, Kinvey, Kony, Xamarin or Xively.
Big cloud companies like Salesforce and Adobe will look to invest in mobile and automate it. Forrester predicts that in 2016 marketing tech vendors will find themselves in an arms race to provide automated products, data driven insights and deliver engaging in-app experiences.
Mobile marketing start-ups that could be of interest include Kahuna, Localytics, Swrve and Urban Airship.
Rugged technology designer and manufacturer Getac has launched a rugged tablet targeted at the field service sector and developed using the principle of “marginal gains” – an approach adopted by Britain’s all-conquering Olympic cycling team, explains UK President Peter Molyenux.
The Getac RX10 is a lightweight tablet with features aimed at shaving minutes off field service worker tasks, meaning more work can be done, more reliably, resulting in increased time efficiency in a number of challenging working environments.
The RX10 specifications include an integral “grab-and-go” carry-handle, a 10.1in 800 nits Lumibond HD screen incorporating sunlight readable technology, HD webcam, 8M pixel rear facing auto focus camera, smartcard reader , 3D antenna and integral GPS. Computing power is provided by an Intel M vPro processor with up to 1.2Ghz, or 2.9Ghx with Intel Turbo Boos with 4MB Intel Smart Cache and up to 256MB SSD. Windows 10 is pre-installed.
The 2D barcode scanner is located for ease of us while the clearer screen, slightly better camera resolution, higher rugged rating, better ease of cleaning and hot-swappable battery all add up to improve productivity, says Molyneux.
A great deal can be accomplished by somebody in the field in six minutes…
“On the face of it, RX10 is marginally better an offering than current-market specialist tablet products. But that’s the key, it doesn’t need to be that much different. It is the slight changes and enhancements in each feature over and above the current benchmark that make the difference, and means that workers dependent upon such technology can accrue a series of ‘marginal gains’ in time as their day goes on – ultimately adding up to completing more work in a typical shift, thereby saving money.
“If every feature contributes to an accrued tiny percentage improvement or gain in performance of a worker from a time-efficiency perspective, then it means, for instance, a single engineer or technician or using a tablet on a typical – but probably unscheduled – ten-hour shift will gain five or six minutes. A great deal can be accomplished by somebody in the field in six minutes: an equipment check, surveying a snag, uploading a report, a key component change.
“For instance, the 3D antenna means communication and data downloading is slightly faster; it also means that communication can be sustained in areas where coverage is patchy. The processor does not need a cooling fan., meaning less draw on power, but, importantly, avoiding the consequences of the tablet overheating and shutting down for ten minutes. The grab-and-go handle means potentially fewer drops.
Rugged credentials include certification to MIL-STD-810G and IP65 and the RX10 comes with a three-year warranty. “While rugged tech is often labelled expensive, in reality the gap is closing between something like RX10 and a consumer-market adapted tablet with rugged case.”
“The extra few metres of communications provided by the 3D aerial can mean better coverage or faster data flow. Aligned with discrete built-in GPS that can mean a field-service operative is better able to locate equipment or infrastructure on a site visit. If it is an emergency repair, then that could impact, for instance, how quickly a building, industrial plant or even a town is reconnected to essential services.