For many of our customers who have incorporated a mobile solution into their business operations, robust and rugged handheld devices are an absolute must. They need devices that can be drop-kicked across a warehouse floor, resist water sprayed directly on them or are completely sealed from dust, oil and other contaminants. Companies like PSION | Teklogix, Intermec, Motorola (formerly Symbol) and DataLogic are industry leaders in this technology field and have such devices available if you're willing to shell out $1000 or more per unit.
While these devices are stellar in their ability to take a licking, they all continue to run on the aging Windows Mobile operating system. As a partner with some of these manufactures, we know they're considering releasing Android-base devices. We'd like to see them move quickly and get them to market...and here are three reasons why:
- The writing is on the wall! The industry has changed at a frighteningly fast pace. In the last three years, Android and iPhone devices have overtaken the market by reinventing how mobile devices work. Windows Mobile remains entrenched in a usage model that was valid in the middle of the last decade. In 2011, the stylus is no longer an option...devices are finger-driven.
- Windows Mobile smartphones have all but vanished. If a mobile app is designed for a person doing deliveries on a rugged device running Windows Mobile, an account manager who also uses the app for account and inventory lookups will need a Windows Mobile device as well. Finding a small, inexpensive Windows Mobile smartphone is now very difficult, making it hard to build the app once and have it transition easily between different types of mobile workers and devices.
- Deploy now, fill the holes later. While Windows Mobile may be a more enterprise-ready operating system due to a longer history in the market, that has not stopped executives, managers and other employees from using their Android and iPhone devices for business purposes. The cycle has always been to push the technology into the enterprise, figure out where the holes are, then build ways to fix those issues. How about this? Let's push to get Android into enterprise scenarios now, then resolve the sync and management issues with products like PointSync Professional!
As software developers, we hedge our bets on the most widely accepted platforms. Right now, Android owns the biggest share of the mobile platform war. According to industry studies, Android will grow to own 50% of the market by 2012! In the near future, we'd like to see the same app we write for an account executive packing a Droid Pro also work on a high-end rugged device. Who will step to the plate first? Whoever it is, we hope it happens soon.
Information Architect @ MobileDataForce