Typically the choice for businesses looking to use a mobile device has been between a classic rugged PDA or a consumer phone. The problem is that what-ever you choose, they both bring their own set of benefits and problems to the table that can stop a business dead in it's tracks.
What this article tries to highlight is the problems rugged handhelds have, the issues consumer devices bring and how a "Hybrid-Rugged" smartphone attempts to mitigate the comprises these bring.
Here at Raptor we re-sold classic rugged devices for many years so, whilst we understand really well how they can reduce all kinds of mobility issues, we also learned over the years just how few solutions they really tackled. This is why we now sell "Hybrid-rugged" devices, because we'ree passionate that, right here, right now, they are the answer for many businesses.
Before we go on, I think we should also stress that we're not saying consumer or classic rugged devices are wrong. We're simply saying that they no longer fit most businesses. It is absolutely reasonable that any of these 3 device types are the right choice for your business and we discuss that below. First though, lets explore the main issues with classic rugged devices.
Traditional rugged PDA’s are expensive, have expensive accessories and support. In fact typically they're at least double the price of a typical hybrid-rugged device and this makes the initial outlay for a smaller business quite painful. Whilst the theory of this is that the total cost of ownership over time wins out, the reality of this is that all too often the price of this is too high, so businesses try to work with Rugged devices that are too expensive and have none of the support framework they need to be efficient tools.
Large, expensive investments and stale technology means investment return can take a long time with 5 or even 8 years being normal. The first real rugged Android phone came out in about 2011, could you imagine still relying on this at work? Whilst a classic rugged device will win out over the years against a consumer phone, this no longer holds true against Hybrid-Rugged devices and the long commitment to do so is no longer viable for many as it this puts your businesses' ability to innovate and change at risk.
Rugged PDA's tend to be big, bulky and heavy. This no longer offers any benefits in terms of battery size and can create issues for users who need to use them all day long.
Classic rugged devices technology lags badly behind current mobile technology. Windows operating systems are decades old and now officially unsupported. This in turn makes development costly, slow and distinctly old hat. Whilst there are increasing numbers of Android based classic rugged devices now available, these are still new technology based on the same old form factors, which simply don't work in our experience. Devices that are new are still costly or too niche to be useful for all.
Classic rugged handhelds have physical keypads, small odd shaped screens, unfamiliar operating systems and require user training to understand them. Add to that development has become quite bespoke and slow.
So with all the problems of classic rugged devices above, you'd be forgiven for thinking that a consumer phone is the way to go. However for many, this can be an even worse decision.
OK, so lets not forget the whole reason we use rugged phones in the first place is that consumer phones durability is non-existant. Even the latest phones that have IP ratings (ahem...cough, cough) are still poor in comparison to the durability of a true rugged device.
For businesses, you need great support, fast repairs and a B2B minded supplier. Consumer suppliers simply don't understand the B2B enterprise market. Anyone ever tried to call Samsung? We did over the Note 8 debacle and it was awful!
To gain access to the very latest in technology is in fact quite expensive and becoming comparable to the price of classic rugged hardware anyway. With the latest consumer technology now breaking the £1000 mark, the TCo is simply through the roof. Turn to cheaper consumer devices and you'll largely be looking at low spec devices with very little in the way of roadmap.
Consumer phones come and go, usually every year, with no warning and no migration support. They're consumer devices and they are meant to wow us all with the latest in technology and shiny glassy stuff! They don;t do roadmap or B2B or 3 day support.
Woeful battery life is not just due to the fact the batteries are small on consumer phones, because they need to be sexy and slim to appeal. All the latest technology that is pretty obsolete to businesses like Quad HD screens for example is one sure way to chew your battery up in minutes. Forget all day working from any consumer device!
Consumer phones compromise on key business needs in their quest to be sexy, shiny and appealing. They're the models of the mobile world, not the 9-5 worker crew like the rest of us! Well rugged phones might not look great, but they last longer and are designed to be dropped!
The past few years have seen huge change in what mobile workers do, how their mobile device is supplied and therefore what they look for in a device.
Today the mobile workforce has matured and as such are more interested in durability so they can remain working and thus earning. They're also less bothered about the latest technology and a large reason for this is that innovation has all but faltered in consumer phones. In the rugged market innovation has been able to follow a niche path as uptake hots up and users seek no compromise devices that can do it all.
Users demand a device that's familiar to them, demanding a "smartphone-like" experience, rather than having to learn to use a device for work. So an Android device that is rugged is what they seek, rather than a rugged pda that runs Androids.
Classic rugged handhelds grew up in the bespoke software era, however, today with the "app" market mentality, users can quickly and easily download what they need at the click of a button. This has fuelled Android sales as the Google "Play" store satisfies this need. Rugged devices have no "App store" and as such have not kept pace.
Workers no longer need two devices, one for personal and one for work, preferring to find one device suitable for everything. Unlike consumer and classic rugged devices, the new wave of hybrid rugged devices is able to supply this demand.
Hybrid rugged devices are inexpensive and are becoming less expensive than both classic and consumer alternatives.
Hybrid devices have the same benefits of classic rugged devices, but are all round less expensive, so they pay back your investment quickly, giving you choice. Refresh regularly to keep pace, or keep for years at reduced costs.
Running the latest Android operating systems and the same look and feel as a consumer smartphone, they're capable of being your personal and work device.
Typically slim, light and even good looking, hybrid rugged phones don't compromise on the important factors.
Hybrid devices have great batteries, are fully rugged, have good enough screens that aren't power hungry and simply do everything well.
So whilst there is a new kid in town, Hybrid-RUgged might not always be the answer and we'd be foolish to think overwise. Depsite us only really selling hybrid-rugged here we still think there are scenarios where a classic rugged or consumer phone might be the answer for you.
When your business systems are heavily bespoke and you are looking for a Microsoft solution end to end. You may also not have moved to an Android OS platform so the only way to update is by choosing a rugged PDA running Windows Mobile. Microsoft aside, if you go for an Android classic rugged device then despite the total costs, the more mature "enterprise" manner of the suppliers in this area, think Zebra, Honeywell etc may simply be the better fit for your business.
Well, I can't really think of any reason an iPhone or £1000 Samsung would be better in a B2B market, however if we just take the cheaper consumer phone like say Samsung J series then I think these serve the same purpose as HTC phones did 10 years ago. They're cheap and they open doors that were locked for businesses due to the price levels.. Some suppliers o ffer adequate support and you can work out deals on this type of phone through mobile network providers too making the up front costs very competitive. Be prepared for plenty to break though!
I'll leave you with this to think about. Technology is changing all the time and for your business to thrive it has to change too. Hybrid-rugged represent this change in our market and we truly believe at Raptor that for most businesses this type of device is worth considering.