Motorola has launched the first mobile handset from its Symbol acquisition, a device aimed at a broader enterprise market than Symbol’s traditional rugged handheld computers have targeted.
Neil Bonner, product manager for Motorola’s enterprise mobility division, said the M35 is a Windows Mobile device with GSM/GPRS/EDGE connectivity on the cellular side and Bluetooth for headset use in vehicles, as well as for wireless peripherals such as printers.
Cellular and Bluetooth are both default features, while 802.11b/g is an option. Bonner said this is because some enterprises said they specifically didn’t want 802.11b/g on security grounds. While it is a convenience when in an office WLAN context, the potential for intellectual property or other sensitive data leakage in WiFi hotspots outweighs the potential benefits for these target customers.
Another optional feature is the 2-Megapixel camera. The camera comes with a software decoder and is offered on the MC35 to enable a degree of barcode scanning, at least for large barcodes, though this is a far cry from the high-resolution laser scanner on the industrial-grade Symbol devices like the MC70. We describe barcode scanning as not being the MC35’s core job, Bonner said. The camera is optional because there are a number of enterprises that actively ban cameras in their environment.
It’s targeted at the broader enterprise market for its field and/or sales force automation, designed to be used by people who need to make phone calls but also get business applications, including push email, on their handsets, and saves them having to carry a phone and a mobile computing or data input device, said Bonner.
The MC35 is described as durable and can be dropped from one meter onto tiles, whereas the MC70-type of device is rugged which means it can be dropped from 1.2 meters onto concrete and is sealed up to Ingress Protection 54 level, which is an international standard, meaning that it is rainproof. IP67 is the maximum and means the device can actually be submerged in water, like a diver’s watch.
The MC35 is going up against devices from HP (the high-end iPAQs) and HTC, which has just launched its own mobile computing devices. The difference is that those devices are generally on a product cycle of six-to-nine months, after which it is difficult to get service contracts, whereas we offer two years in production, followed by service and support for another three, Bonner said. That means you can roll them out over the normal year-to-18 months that enterprise roll-outs can take, without the risk of ending up with a mixed estate of devices.
The price of the MC35 ranges from $640 to $750, depending on the configuration. The device also takes legacy Symbol into the carrier market where discounts are likely to apply. Bonner said the prices are comparable to those of competing products, so the company will hope to differentiate itself on the length of active life plus ongoing support.
The MC70 is quite a different animal, with a price tag anywhere between $2,195 and $2,845. Motorola/Symbol has also just announced a version of the product for the CDMA/EV-DO market, having already had a version for the GSM world for some time. Bonner declined to speculate on whether a CDMA version of the MC35 is planned.