It figures that as devices gain power and come in more shapes and sizes, they will find more use in the field. That reasonable assumption leads to another, which is that ruggedizing phones, tablets and laptops will grow in importance.
It’s not clear that that is happening. Regardless, there is some news on the ruggedized device and related fronts. I included the phrase “related” because one of the introductions is for a waterproof device, which may not fit a precise definition of ruggedized. There are wrist watches, for instance, that can be worn in the shower but are better off not taken to a construction site. The term “ruggedized” is closely aligned with devices that can freely be folded, spindled and mutilated (to use an antiquated phrase) rather than submerged.
In any case, there are three news items during the past couple of weeks.
Newsfactor reports that Sony is rolling out the Xperia ZR, which is the phone I referred to above. The story has the details about the Android-powered device, which features a 4.6-inch display, a 13 megapixel camera and runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon D4 Pro quad core processor.
The story also has some interesting commentary on waterproof smartphones. According to Recon Analytics’ wireless analyst, Roger Entner, waterproof phones were hot a “year or two ago” but haven’t hit the mainstream. They are “straightforward” to make and usually aren’t the key to a purchase decision.
The other new device is an offshoot of the Galaxy S4 Zoom. TechCrunch reported yesterday that the ruggedized S4 Active has been submitted for certification to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. It is smaller than the flagship device and features water and dust resistance. The piece suggests that it is aimed at those with an “active lifestyle,” not as a ruggedized workplace tool. It mentions the Sony ZR as a likely competitor.
Last month, ZDNet posted a story that was meant in part to carry the news of the introduction of four ruggedized devices from Panasonic to the Indian market. The new ToughPads are two tablets and two handheld computers. The other element of the story is a discussion of whether ruggedized devices are as relevant for small- and medium-size businesses as they are for enterprises. I am not sure why this is an issue. The use cases for companies of both sizes are the same – workers need to take their devices into environments that are in some way rough and tumble -- so the justification for the story line is unclear. Despite that, however, it is worth reading to get a flavor for the topic.
There is some action north of the border as well. A site with the troubling name MobileSyrup reports that Bell Canada is adding three devices from Sonim, makers of ruggedized phones. The timing of the new devices is not clear. The Bell PTT service, which the story says has been running since April, currently offers one Sonim phone.