Showing posts from April, 2007

Handheld Computer Considerations

There are a lot of good handheld computers available and some bad ones. I will leave the bad ones for a future discussion and focus on some of the points to consider when selecting good handheld hardware. What environment will you be using the handheld computer in - is it hot, cold, wet, dusty or filled with explosive vapors? Is it a clean office environment, or a rugged out-of-doors environment? Is your software application focused exclusively on bar code scanning, RFID reading, GPS, or do you need a multi-purpose device? Will the hardware configuration ever need to be changed? Some handhelds can be configured at will, others are locked and can only be used with the original configuration. What hardware does your selected software require? Will the battery last long enough to accomplish your work? Do you need back-up batteries? Can you use batteries purchased at the local market, or are they vendor specific? What is your budget? What does the value of using a handheld computer ju

RAM Mounts for Mobile and Handheld PDAs

Many of you will be using your rugged mobile handheld PDA solutions in your vehicles. RAM Mounts has a large selection of different equipment for mounting handheld PDAs, laptops and Tablet PCs inside of your vehicle. Some of the mounts are designed to enable your mobile devices to be charged while cradled. MobileDataforce has a large deployment that includes software licenses of our PointSync Mobile, Psion Teklogix WorkAbout Pros and RAM Mounts all connected to a GPRS/Satellite system for an always connected environment.

Tools, Parts & Mobile Work Order Solutions on Handheld PDAs

We have had several requests recently to combine mobile work order solutions with inventory and asset tracking applications for use on mobile handheld PDAs. This is not unusual, it just points out the fact that companies are recognizing a great deal of value from mobilizing business processes. Here is an example: The company wants to track any employees that enter the stockroom where both inventory and tools are kept, and track anything that is removed by them. They would do this by matching the employee's ID cards, with the customer's work order and any inventory or tools that are used on the work order. This solution would better control the use of tools and inventory, and ensure they are appropriately billed to the customer's work order. This system would provide the following ROI: Reduce missing inventory Bill the customer appropriately for inventory usage Bill the customer appropriately for the use of tools Track the tools and who has them (asset tracking) Assign

The Latest Information on Appforge

After losing over $24 million since 2001 Appforge closes and sells assets to Oracle. Here are a number of additional articles and blogs on the subject: MobileDataforce invites former Appforge developers to consider the PointSync Mobility Platform for rapidly developing mobile applications.

Paintless Dent Repair & Handheld PDA Solutions

MobileDataforce has become one of the leading suppliers of mobile handheld PDA software applications to the Paintless Dent Repair industry ( PDR ). A few years ago I would not have guessed this would turn out to be such a dynamic and growing market for us. Why are companies involved in the PDR industry using mobile handheld PDA solutions for field services? Here are a few of the business issues that mobile solutions address: Avoid duplicate billings - when a car is brought into inventory, the VIN is scanned using a bar code scanner, this creates a new and unique record in the mobile software application that can be used to uniquely identify the vehicle and to assign inspections, work orders and invoices to it. This avoids duplicate billings for the same vehicle which causes the dealership to question your integrity. Avoid double entry of data - data should only be entered once. Data should be entered at the "point-of-work" and then synchronized wirelessly directly with

Thoughts on the Business of Mobile Handheld PDA Software Development

Software and IT Consultants that wish to offer general mobile software development services and mobile handheld PDA solutions to a broad market have the following important business management questions to consider: how do you achieve economies of scale (get better and faster over time to increase profitability) how do you manage risks (from many new and custom development projects) how do you develop in-house expertise in a broad windows mobile market with a large number of different mobile business processes how do you develop all the appropriate technology skills necessary to deliver a wide variety of applications using different synchronization, security, integration, database, business process and connectivity options in your mobile software how do you develop a complete quality assurance plan for every new custom mobile software application (make sure you include this time in your proposal) how do you efficiently test and de-bug a large number of custom mobile applications how do

Ultra-Rugged Portable Printers - O'Niel Printers for Handheld PDA Solutions

Have you ever thought what a challenge it would be to produce a ruggedized printer for use with a mobile handheld PDA? Think about the environment they are used in; rain, snow, dust, spilled coffee, climbing in-and-out of vehicles all day, dropping it on the bathroom floor when your belt is loose. I am sure the folks at O'Niel have a million stories they laugh about or cry about when customers are not around. For those who feel "rugged" is not good enough for them, O'Niel Portable Printers offer the "Ultra-Rugged" line of microFlash printers . These printers are also called "wearable" printers and they can be clipped to your belt. Hummm ...what if you don't wear a belt? Where would you clip it? Perhaps you also need ruggedized clothing to support your ruggedized printer? These are popular with the route delivery folks who are leaving proof-of-delivery receipts with digital signatures. They can also be used for sales receipts, service

AppForge sells assets; firm owes $1.8 million AppForge sells assets; firm owes $1.8 million Atlanta Business Chronicle - April 13, 2007 by Justin Rubner Details have emerged about the fate of software-maker AppForge Inc. The company, which unexpectedly shut its doors in mid-March, has sold its assets to Atlanta-based Hays Financial Consulting LLC , a firm that manages distressed, insolvent and bankrupt companies. AppForge, which developed software for PDAs and other mobile devices, filed an "assignment for the benefit of creditors," a quasi-bankruptcy that assigns all assets to the management company with the intent of paying off creditors as quickly as possible so shareholders can get something as well.

Gartner on Appforge

This blog article is from Nick Jones and Michael King at Gartner: Gartner's advice - "...develop a contingency plan for what you'll do if AppForge ceases to be viable, and be prepared to activate that plan some time in the next three months." MobileDataforce is here to help with contingency plans.

Rent a Mobile Handheld PDA or Handheld Computer

Ryzex now offers rugged industrial handheld PDAs or computers for rent. How is this helpful? Many organizations need rugged handheld computers only for a specific 6 week period of time for year-end inventory, annual inspections, or a one time limited time project. MobileDataforce sees a lot of these projects because our mobile software platform, the PointSync Mobility Platform , enables companies to quickly design, development and deploy these simple mobile applications. Another important set of considerations is the ability to immediately synchronize and review the data that was collected on the mobile applications. In an earlier blog article I wrote about the challenges with using poorly trained, temporary workers for important data collection in the field.

Appforge Discussion Group

I found this online discussion group on the subject of Appforge. It is mostly Appforge developers trying to determine what to do next, and how to activate their existing licenses when no one answers the phone at Appforge.

Ruggedized Digital Cameras and Windows CE

Two Technologies has an interesting product strategy with their Jett-Eye handheld PDA. They have in effect created a ruggedized digital camera in the form of a handheld PDA. Their product marketing emphasizes the camera features as its most distinctive component. Take digital color pictures in the field. Capture data on the go. Seamlessly connect with the office. Simultaneously increase field service productivity, improve customer service, and turbo charge your profits—all while improving your customer relationships. This complex scenario is now made simple with the JETT•eye. It was designed to make all of this possible at an affordable price point. Rugged True-Camera-System- 5.17 MP color CMOS Sensor (4MP processed) • Camera System scans bar codes and processes digital images with auto-focus and illumination One no longer must settle for a 1.3 megapixel camera in a handheld PDA. We at MobileDataforce get requirements weekly from companies asking for digital image integration with

Furniture Delivery & Mobile Handheld PDA Solutions

I had a piece of furniture delivered this week and it was an interesting experience with a mobile software application for handheld PDAs. The delivery team had an Intermec 700C Pocket PC with an integrated data card and a bar code scanner with them. I asked them to tell me what they do with it and here is what they said. They first scan all boxed furniture as they load it into the trucks. This allows the office to see where any piece of furniture is at any time. The scan is synchronized with the enterprise database and the addresses of the delivery location and the customer information is pulled down to the handheld computer. When they unload the furniture at the delivery location, they scan the bar code on the label of the boxed furniture and fill out an electronic delivery form on the handheld computer with the deliver driver's name, date and time stamp on it. They carry the boxes into the house and remove the furniture from it. They inspect the furniture for damage They

Appforge Selling Off Pieces

More reports and rumors on Appforge : Appforge's website URL now re-directs to Oracle. Last week I heard that Appforge sold their customer list to a different software company, and now their website domain to Oracle? If there were any kind of value in the Appforge business plan, it seems they would have kept the customer list and website domain together and sold them as a package. The customer list is a key asset and represents their marketing and sales efforts since 2001. Their web domain name is their key marketing real estate. Separating them seems to represent there was minimal value in the business. Anyone looking for used cubicles, desks, computers and chairs? If this is true (I read it on the internet so it must be), they are truly selling the company in pieces rather than to a company looking to support the product line and customer base. MobileDataforce is a mobile software solutions company that provides an alternative for Appforge customers. Thanks for the

Appforge Strategy vs Mobile Software Platform for PDAs, Smartphones and Handhelds

Appforge provided software developers with pre-built code scripts, code libraries, and developer tools for developing applications for PDAs, handhelds and Smartphones as opposed to MobileDataforce's PointSync Mobility Platform which is a "mobile software platform" for designing, developing and deploying data-centric mobile applications. What is the difference? The PointSync Mobility Platform comes with the following: Graphical development environment for designing and configuring mobile applications Embedded mobile databases Embedded synchronization database server Embedded synchronization technology Database integration manager Deployment manager User manager Application manager With the PointSync Mobility Platform, you do not need additional third-party mobile databases, third-party development environments, third-party integration tools, third-party synchronization tools. All of these are included in the software platform. I recognize that some Appforge developers pr

Printek's FieldPro Printer for Use with Mobile Handheld PDAs

One of MobileDataforce's customers operates a parking garage management company in the SE of the USA. In addition to operating city parking garages, they also contract with municipal governments to issue parking tickets when vehicles are illegally parked. This customer required a mobile printer like the Printek FieldPro pictured here for use with their mobile handheld PDAs. It is designed to be used out-of-doors in the dust and the rain and to operate on batteries. Since most of our customers operate in these environments this is a very appealling design! Our customer's employees walk around the garage and the city filling out electronic forms on their rugged handheld computers and printing citations. They needed a rugged, mobile printer that operates on batteries and connects to the handheld computer via bluetooth. MobileDataforce's PointSync Mobility Platform printing module enabled them to connect via cable or bluetooth to these kind of rugged mobile printers. Other

MobileDataforce® Expands in Asia with New Singapore Reseller

Boise, Idaho— April 11, 2007 – MobileDataforce®, a leading provider of business critical mobile software applications for use on handheld PDA and smartphones, today announced a reseller partnership with NetCob Technologies Pte Ltd, in Singapore. “MobileDataforce’s PointSync Mobility Platform will bring tremendous value to our target market in Asia,” says John Gong, Managing Director of NetCob Technologies . “Increasingly companies are looking to enterprise mobility solutions to more efficiently capture data in the field. MobileDataforce’s mobile software solutions offer the most flexible and innovative technologies to securely and cost effectively mobilize business processes.” The PointSync Mobility Platform is an enterprise class solution used to rapidly design, develop and deploy business critical mobile applications for use on smartphones, industrial handhelds and PDAs using the Windows Mobile OS. It is architected to provide database centric mobile applications with bi-directio

More on Appforge's Demise

I had the chance to speak to another industry mobility expert yesterday about the recent demise of Appforge , and his opinion was that Appforge competed too closely with Microsoft and lost. Appforge's original business plan seemed to assume that the business community would adopt the Palm and the Symbian operating systems in significant numbers, but that simply did not happen. Companies that were seeking to mobilize business solutions were using Windows Mobile or Windows CE operating systems. This left Appforge with only the Microsoft developer community as a sizable target market, and this community tended to stick with the Visual Studio and .NET development environment for programming tools. Appforge found themselves competing head-to-head with Microsoft's VB .NET. At some point the VC funding stopped and Appforge failed to find a buyer. Now that they have shut the doors, rumor has it they are selling off the remaining company assets brick by brick. MobileDataforce offer

Dead - Dell Axim Handheld PDAs

It appears that Dell has quietly stopped making and selling the Axim PDA. Just like the Palm devices of old, Dell can not find a market selling a stand alone consumer PDA. Consumers want Smart phones and PDA phones and they are buying them in large numbers. Soon consumers will demand music, video and GPS in their Smart Phones.

Inspection Failure & Handheld PDAs

NON-COMPLIANCE! REJECTION! There are so many different ways to fail an inspection. If you could see the stacks of inspection forms that sit on the desks of my professional services teams you could barely sleep at night! Have you ever thought about how many different ways you could fail an inspection? If you were an elevator in Broward County, Florida - you could fail the following inspections: 7010, 7900, 7020, 7040, 7060, 7030, 7050, 7070, 7090 And believe don't want to fail 7070. In each of these inspections - you could end up in violation in so many different ways. You could receive "Danger Sign", "Ascending Car Over Speed", "Alarm Bell", and "Door Closing Speed" violations. If you were a commercial establishment that sells medical narcotics legally , there are inspections completed by the State Board of Pharmacy. If you are a commercial establishment that sells narcotics illegally , then you have other problems to worry about.

Psion Teklogix's WorkAbout Pro Handheld and RFID

Over the last couple of weeks I have highlighted a lot of handheld PDAs that I have found interesting, however, when I walk the halls of our offices and look on the desks of our professional services teams, I see a whole lot of the Psion Teklogix WorkAbout Pro . I know my team has loaded our PointSync mobile software client onto hundreds of these handhelds recently. They are popular with companies that need a rugged handheld that can be opened up and configured with a large variety of different add-ons. For example, if you want a basic pocket pc in a rugged case today, but will soon need to add a GPRS wireless card, or a GPS receiver, or a RFID reader, the WorkAbout Pro is a good option. It can be reconfigured at will with in minutes. The WorkAbout Pro shown in the image above has an add-on RFID reader attached. This one was used for tracking cattle IDs using passive RFID ear tags. The ability to reconfigure your industrial/rugged device should not be taken for granted. Most indu

Water Proof Handheld PDAs

Have you ever held a TDS Recon Pocket PC ? It is solid, feels bomb proof and is water proof. If you are working in the out-of-doors in mud, slime, rain and snow and need a field data collection device, I would invite you to consider this handheld PDA. It isn't cheap, but it is specialized for the most rugged conditions and provides all the benefits of collecting data in the field and syncing it back to the enterprise database. MobileDataforce has delivered mobile solutions using the PointSync Mobility Platform to electrical utility companies, engineers and many other companies that were using this device for field data collection.

Re-engineering Business Processes with Handheld PDA Solutions

MobileDataforce's professional services teams are working on dozens of mobile software projects globally at any given time. As a result, we have gained through experience in-depth knowledge about how mobile solutions can change companies, their business processes and the way they think. Let's discuss a few of the things we have seen and learned: Companies rarely understand the full extent of the changes mobile software solutions will bring to their organization Most mobile software projects start small and have a very limited user base and business focus As the users begin to test and adopt the new mobile software solutions, they most often expand the project as they quickly recognize the efficiencies that can be gained by using mobile software solutions that are tied into corporate database applications There is usually some point about 80% through the mobile software development project when there is a loud "AHA!" that echos the halls of our clients' offices -

Appforge in Trouble

The internet is buzzing over reports that mobile software tools provider Appforge has closed its doors. MobileDataforce is in the same mobile software market as Appforge, but rather than focusing only on providing code and scripts for developers of mobile solutions, they make development easier and faster through rich graphical development environments that include mobile syncing, mobile databases, database integration and security. Information on MobileDataforce's PointSync Mobility Platform (shown in the picture above) can be found here. 30-day trial versions are available upon request.

Intermec CN3 Mobile Handheld PDA

This week I have written about several new "light industrial" handheld PDAs and industrial strength handheld computers including the Dolphin 7600 and Symbol's MC35 . Today I want to highlight another new handheld PDA, this time from Intermec . It is called the CN3, uses Windows Mobile and is pictured here. The trend is readily apparent - the ruggedized handheld PDA manufacturers have recognized the need to develop specialized hardware for mobile field workers. Workers that need a light weight device with a combined mobile phone and a handheld PDA so they can communicate both voice and enterprise data from their handhelds while working at remote locations and jobsites. These categories of handheld computers align nicely with MobileDataforce's focus on the mobile worker and their need for specialized mobile software applications.

Dolphin 7600 - Mobile Handheld PDA

MoblileDataforce focuses on providing mobile software applications, so when hardware companies develop handheld computers that match our focus I am very interested. Hand Held Products (HHP) has recently released a new handheld computer called the Dolphin 7600 . This handheld is small, light weight, has extended battery life and a built-in bar code scanner. I particularly like the rubberized edges for easy gripping and added drop protection. It has a 4 foot drop to concrete rating. It runs on the Windows CE operating system so is completely supported by mobile software applications and mobile software platforms like the PointSync Mobility Platform. This category of handheld computers (light industrial mobile handheld computers) fits field users who need a mobile computer that can easily fit in their pocket, or on their belt. Something that is easy to handled, but contains all the functionality of the larger industrial handheld computers.

RFID Solutions on Handheld Computers and PDA at MobileDataforce

Last year at this time MobileDataforce was receiving a lot of questions from companies asking about RFID for use on mobile handheld PDAs and rugged handheld computers. They wanted to know what was possible with RFID. It was an educational process, rather than a buying process. I am happy to say (as the CEO of a software company) that companies are now buying RFID solutions. Today we are involved in numerous RFID solution implementations and projects. We have implemented RFID ear tags on cattle, we have implemented a number of asset tracking applications, and now we are reviewing a project to add RFID tags to shopping carts. How interesting!

Symbol MC35 - More Smartphones and Handheld PDAs

Ninety-one people looked up Symbol Technologies' MC35 yesterday on Google. That is quite impressive for a new handheld PDA from Symbol. This device includes a phone, Windows Mobile OS, GPS, keypad and much more in a semi-rugged form. It is larger than most consumer devices running pocket pc, but a perfect size for industrial use. Symbol/Motorola has been rapidly releasing new mobile handheld devices intended for the "mobile" category of workers. The true field services worker who does not want to pack around a large and heavy industrial handheld computer.

Warnings for Companies Considering Mobile Handheld PDA Business Solutions

MobileDataforce is very busy these days helping companies replace old mobile software solutions for handheld PDAs that were based on out-dated Palm or Pocket PC operating systems. Although we appreciate the business, it is worth highlighting this issue for companies considering whether to program/code their own mobile software solution, or use a supported mobile middleware platform like the PointSync Mobility Platform . Here are some issues to consider: Is your mobile solution going to be upgraded every year as mobile operating systems and handheld computers are upgraded? Who is going to be your in-house expert on the latest mobile operating systems and how to support them? It will take an investment of resources to stay current. When you buy new handheld computers or PDAs, they are generally sold with only the latest most current operating system on them. So how can you buy new handheld computers, unless your mobile solution can run on the latest operating system. Over the life o

Mobile Clinical Assistant and Inspection Software

One of our customers selected the "Mobile Clinical Asssistant" to use with their mobile inspection software solution. This is an interesting Tablet PC that can come integrated with a barcode scanner and a digital camera. I love the built-in handheld and sealed environment for easy cleaning.

SoMo 650 Socket's New Mobile Handheld PDA

Here is an interesting development in the world of PDAs and bluetooth barcode scanners - Socket , a company that traditionally manufacturers accessories and add-ons for other company's PDAs and handheld computers, has just announced their own PDA called the SoMo 650 . This is an interesting development since sales of stand alone PDAs (those without phone capabilities) have been dropping year-over-year in favor of PDA Phones and Smart Phones (PDAs running on Windows Mobile and other powerful operating systems that included integrated phone capabilities). It will be interesting to see how a new PDA without phone capabilities will sell these days. I also wonder how this will impact Socket's sales of their bluetooth barcode scanners and other accessories. Other PDA manufacturers will naturally want to avoid referring customers to them out of fear that Socket will sell them the SoMo 650 rather than their iPAQ, XDA, MC35, MC50 or MC75. Symbol Technologies, Intermec Technologies