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Approximately 15 million rugged mobile computers have been sold since 2010, with 99 percent of those being run on a Windows Embedded (Windows Mobile and CE) platform. Developers in the industry have largely been using Microsoft’s .Net Framework for the better part of two decades, but this will soon come to an end. Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows Embedded operating systems by 2020, leaving many wondering how the channel will be affected as OS Migration is forced into the picture.
Additionally, around five years ago, the market for mobile computers began to take a turn toward lower-cost consumer devices. As the country was coming out of the recession, companies had begun to spend less in the technology market. Therefore, consumer grade tablets and PDA’s were finding their way into the enterprise space. Smartphones were being used as barcode scanners and personal tablets were doing double duty as well. Because of this, many of these items may be in need of upgrading as much as their operating systems will.
To more effectively tackle OS migration, first application developers and ISVs will need to transfer their applications to a new operating system. They may choose to use one of the many existing tools or services to port the application or they may start fresh and rewrite it for a new OS. Either way, the time to start this process is now. Second, value added resellers should take a two-pronged approach to OS migration. They should focus all of their new deployments on a different operating system. In addition, all of those aforementioned 15 million devices will need to be refreshed if the end users need to operate their business on a secure platform.
Now that the need to migrate has been identified, it’s important to choose the right OS. Android and iOS are the frontrunners at the moment but there is room in the market for another contender. While both popular in the consumer market, Android and iOS each bring unique opportunities to the channel. Larger manufacturers are rolling out more Android devices than ever. Some add their own modifications to make Android more enterprise-ready (security, staging, management) while others use the vanilla Android available from Google.
Additionally, with the shift from enterprise devices to more consumer-level devices, there are other factors to consider for industries in need of rugged mobile devices. To help curb the shift from traditional pistol grip mobile computers that could withstand drops from the top rack in a warehouse, manufacturers decided to develop devices with the same operating systems that the workforce used on their own personal smartphones. The operating systems in these tablets and smartphones were easy to use and most everyone knew how to maneuver through different apps and programs.
However, with this switch came a bit of a cost to businesses. The cost of replacing consumer grade devices is high, because they don’t withstand the elements of a warehouse or manufacturing facility. They break down quicker and instead of replacing one enterprise mobile computer every five years, companies were replacing these consumer devices once every six months or so.
So with the OS migration looming and many end-users struggling to keep their consumer-grade devices intact and functioning at a high rate, there is a strong opportunity for VARs. This will open doors for a VAR to be able to bundle or upsell their clients on both a physical, rugged, reliable device alongside OS migration services.
Co-Contributors: Jack Sheehan & James Davis