Android Devices for Enterprise Mobility ? Part 1
A continual question we get asked at MobileWorxs is “Since I can buy several Android devices for enterprise mobility for the cost of a single Windows based rugged mobile surely to do so is a no brainer?”
Well maybe it is but perhaps it is not quite so clear cut as I’ll explain in this first of 2 posts about Android devices for Enterprise Mobility.
Not to dismiss Android units from the start they are extremely popular in the consumer world and becoming more so in the Enterprise market due to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Units are well priced which is attracting a wider business audience. As a consumer smart phone they are excellent with thousands of app’s available to do 101 useful and 1101 pointless things. The open nature of Android means users can take full control of the OS and user all the device features.
If you drop and damage an Android smartphone you can just buy another and it will still be cheaper then a rugged PDA. This is true but over how many times? and it is somewhat dependent on the environment and the availability of the same model you just smashed up.
Everyone has dropped there own mobile phone and it bounces and continues to work. Generally your mobile phone spends most of its life in your pocket or on your desk. When used in real world blue collar applications the device is use for the task in hand, thrown into the van foot well, carried on a shoulder strap or shoved into a vehicle cradle. This means the device could get knocked or dropped easily 20 times a day.
When using your mobile device throughout the day you are far more likely to accidentally knock or drop the unit as opposed to your personal mobile phone safe in your pocket or held to your ear. Battery life of personal mobile phones isn’t what it used to be, battery technology although advancing hasn’t kept up with the demands of 3G Wi-Fi and Bluetooth all being switched on all the time. If you use a device continually throughout the day you’ll need to charge it more often.
This means you’ll need a robust charger or in vehicle dock when driving from job to job. Unfortunately these accessories are only consumer grade. Plugging and unplugging leads will reduce life span or the charger and device. This is why enterprise devices have numerous rugged accessories so devices can be jammed into a cradle and pulled out without damaging either part.
Damage is one issue, theft is another. You don’t see many people with an MC9500 down the pub texting a friend. This is because they are not desirable they are tools for work. Revert to an Ipad or the latest Samsung Galaxy 4 – everybody wants one because they look cool the latest gadget to have. This is a sad state of affairs but unfortunately it does happen.
This isn’t to say the current crop of Android devices are not good. They are more then capable if used in the correct way. A manager/merchandiser/salesman etc can all use an Android device or even Ipad/Iphone without too many issues. They are not in an environment where the device is very likely to get knocked or dropped.
Manufacturers that have traditionally built Windows Mobile equipment for the line of business market are starting to bring out Android based devices. In the past these companies have used Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as a reason why users should buy rugged devices and they may well end up using the sales argument here. After all it’s just another OS and if you are deploying thousands of the same unit it does actually pay to be able to fix it rather than scrap it. However what they are not used to combating is the functionality and price point of a smartphone so watch this space.
Of course the key point is that there is no point buying any sort of mobile technology without having thought through how it will resolve an issue with a business problem. So do this first !
In the short term expect to see more Android devices for enterprise mobility like the Mini Tablet Motorola ET1 and more traditional smartphone shape Handheld x1. Both are fine units and run Android but each has different versions of the OS…more of that next time.