Motorola has launched a durable phone with GPS and Bluetooth for salespeople on the road - updating the MC50 durable enterprise PDA made by recently-acquired Symbol.
"The MC50 was limited by the fact that it is on Wi-Fi, and only works in the user's four walls," said Neil Bonner, product manager for mobile computing EMEA at Motorola. Symbol had already made a cellular version, the ruggedised MC70, but the MC35 is "for field workers for whom an MC70 is unnecessarily robust, because they don't climb up repair poles or go out in lashing rain," said Bonner.
The MC35, which was designed and built independently by Symbol, before the Motorola acquisition completed in January, runs Windows Mobile 5.0, and includes 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 1.2, GPS, and a 2 megapixel camera. It also supports email, Internet access, and a built-in application uses the camera as a barcode reader.
"It's the package rather than the device that is interesting," said Bonner, conceding that the specs aren't that exciting. "If customers want to run Salesforce.com on it, or other business applications, merchandising, this is the sort of product they will be looking at." He expects it to compete most strongly against products from HP or Qtek.
Motorola has picked up Symbol's strategy of offering a more stable product than most PDAs or phones, with a guarantee it will be manufactured for two years, and supported for three years beyond that. We will offer three years fully comprehensive coverage against accidental damage, with a fixed cost of ownership for the full period," said Bonner.
While the MC50 had a full barcode scanner, the MC35 uses software to decode barcodes through the camera. "It's not as robust or reliable as a laser scanner or barcode imager," said Bonner. "Barcodes are a nice to have for our market, which is much more likely to use it as a camera. For instance, insurance assessors will be able to take images and get claims processing before they leave the premises."
GPS is included but Motorola is not bundling any map software, leaving it to the customer to decide whether to add Tomtom or a similar package. The company may already have satellite navigation in its cars, and might just use the GPS to monitor the location of its mobile workers, to ensure safety and comply with regulations.
Although Motorola hasn't yet weighed into the design of the MC series, it's likely to have an impact on its sales, said Bonner: "Motorola has a capable sales force operating where the Symbol didn't have that same level of contacts. We will find it going into new marketplaces which Symbol could not traditionally address."