Rugged devices – the strong potential of a growing market

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In today’s super-connected world, mobile technology is essential for many workers. For those operating in challenging environments, however, an ordinary smartphone or tablet may not be up to the job. That’s why rugged devices are becoming standard kit for everyone from paramedics to power engineers.

Rugged devices have traditionally been seen as something of a niche product, but recent research points to significant potential in this growing market sector. A five-year market forecast from CCS Insights predicts that worldwide shipments of rugged devices will more than double to 59 million units by 2021. The Global Rugged Devices Market 2018-2022 report from TechNavio forecasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over six per cent, while IDC believes the market for Android-based rugged devices could grow at nearly four times that rate.

As more and more field workers have become dependent on handheld devices, the issue of device damage has become a hot topic. From a simple drop on the floor to water damage or contamination with substances such as sand or chemicals, companies can face substantial costs, not just in terms of repairs or replacement, but also in lost productivity. A 2016 IDC survey found that employees lost an average of around four working hours due to tablet repairs and six hours due to handheld device repairs.

A growing customer base

It’s not just the usual suspects, such as utilities, public safety and construction workers, who are benefitting from the increased durability of rugged mobile technology. Even in environments that are not strictly ‘harsh’ or ‘hazardous’, rugged devices can be a smart, cost-effective choice, for example, in busy warehouses, retail environments or operations centres, where efficiency and productivity are mission-critical.

Of course, resistance to the elements and durability are not the only reasons for choosing a rugged smartphone or tablet. These devices are also designed to handle being accidentally dropped on a hard surface, while features such as ‘glove’ or ‘wet touch’ mode (as on the Tab Active 2 from Samsung) ensure the phone remains touch-responsive even if you’re wearing hand protection or your fingers are slippery with moisture.

Military-grade toughness

It’s not uncommon for military technology to influence the consumer market. When it comes to rugged devices, however, it seems the reverse may be happening. While not being specifically designed for the military, some rugged smartphone and tablets are built to such high standards of durability that they are being adopted by the armed forces. In 2016 it was announced that sections of the US Marine Corps would be using Samsung’s off-the-shelf smartphones to call for air, ground and sea support during operations.

One of the key barriers to market growth in rugged technology has been a perception that the devices are expensive and a poor substitute for their consumer-grade counterparts., In recent times, though, the products available on the market have evolved considerably. Prices are affordable and devices can either be attached to a data plan, which allows them to access popular websites, apps and more, or be bought SIM-free, so that the user can simply pop in the SIM from their normal smartphone or tablet. They’re also now powered by industry-leading operating systems such as Android, making them feature-rich and able to run a wide range of popular apps.

What’s more, taking into account the savings on repairs or replacements, the total cost of ownership (TCO) for rugged devices can be much less than using standard smartphones or tablets in situations where they may be subject to environmental hazards, or where durability is an important factor.

A big opportunity

With the global rugged devices market expected to be worth around £480 million by 2020, now’s the time to start a conversation with your customers about the needs of their mobile workforce. At Daisy Distribution we offer a choice of Samsung rugged devices and our team will be happy to offer any advice or support you need.

To find out more, contact your Business Development Manager or call our Sales Support Team on 01473 382 000 (option 1)