I was in Paris, France last week at Symbol's EMEA Partner Conference. While there I heard more evidence of a trend I have been watching for a while. The 2 largest ruggedized handheld computer manufacturers - Symbol and Intermec have both recently come out with small, ruggedized, full functional handheld computers. These handheld computers combine the ruggedness of larger handhelds, and include barcode scanners, GPS, phones, WiFi, bluetooth and more. Symbol says that their MC70, pictured above in PointSync Developer, has become one of their top sellers. It is especially appealing to the "field service" market. That is also the market MobileDataforce focuses on.
I have also recently seen a lot of very interesting looking small ruggedized handheld computers coming out of Korea and China. These are sub $1,000 USD devices that can reasonably be used as handheld computers, phones and barcode scanners. They are a little bulky for the suit coat, but work nicely attached to the belt.
MobileDataforce is a big fan of these smaller handheld computers. They carry a lot of power and allow us to provide software solutions to our customers for reduced overall project costs due to less expensive ruggedized hardware.
If you can get full functional, ruggedized handheld computer/phones for under $1,000 USD - there is very little business justification for buying consumer grade PDAs. Most consumer grade PDAs with business capabilities are priced at $500-$800, yet are not ruggedized.
Let's go back to the title of this blog - Where is the magic quadrant for handheld computers? It is handheld computers that are truly convergent. Convergent, meaning they combine the ruggedness and size that is easy to carry, plus they have the phone, Windows Mobile 5.0, GPS, barcode scanners, plus the industrial grade batteries to support a full day's work.
I love it!