Motorola Solutions debuts 'rugged' Android tablet for enterprise

Summary:Network equipment vendor launches business-grade device to address lack of durable tablet options, and releases new mobile app framework to let developers code once for multiple platforms.

SINGAPORE--Motorola Solutions has pitched its first tablet at enterprises, touting rugged features that enable the device to have last longer than consumer-grade products--which one company executive says are lacking in the market.

The ET1 tablet, which the telecommunications equipment provider calls "the first rugged enterprise-class tablet", was unveiled Tuesday at a media briefing by Phey Teck Moh, corporate vice president for the Asia-Pacific region at Motorola Solutions.

The 7-inch device, which runs on Google Android 2.3, will be available in the fourth quarter of 2011 with a recommended retail price of US$1,535.

According to Anand Menta, Motorola's director for retail vertical in the Asia-Pacific region, the company has observed "a little spillover" of consumer-targeted devices being used by its corporate customers. This is caused by a lack of enterprise-grade options, he said on the event sidelines, adding that the ET1 will help create a new market for enterprise tablets.

Cecilia Eng, Motorola Solutions' enterprise product manager for the Asia-Pacific region, pointed out that consumer-grade products are not suitable for the enterprise because they break down easily. Citing research, she said 15 to 20 percent of non-rugged devices in corporate environments fail in the first year of usage while 35 percent do so in the second year. In comparison, the lifecycle of the ET1 is 3 years, with Motorola providing an additional 3 years of support, she noted.

As part of its rugged qualities, Motorola claims the product can withstand a drop 4 feet from the ground and has an IP54 rating. Two-number IP (Ingress Protection) ratings specify the level of protection of casings or enclosures against solid foreign objects and water.

The tablet, said Eng, is targeted at various verticals such as retail, hospitality, healthcare, utility, manufacturing and public sector.

Noting that security as the No. 1 concern of enterprises, Eng added that the ET1 includes an additional proprietary security layer built on top of the Android platform. The security features include encryption, multi-user login and remote device management, she said.

Write once, run on several OS-es
Apart from the launch of ET1, Motorola Solutions also announced the RhoElements mobile app framework, a platform that Eng said will allow developers to develop an app once and run it on multiple operating systems.

Currently, she explained, developers need to know unique programming languages to build apps specific to different platforms. With HTML5-based RhoElements, coders will save development time and maintenance cost as they are able to build cross-platform app.

The framework is targeted at developers within Motorola's customer base and channel ecosystem. For now, RhoElements supports apps for Android, as well as Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Windows CE platforms. Eng said it will cater to other platforms in the future.

Eng added that companies are "restricted" by the OS available for the enterprise. Some prefer the usability of the Android OS but do not want to switch because of issues such as security, IT support or porting of applications.

With the RhoElements framework and ET1 tablet, enterprises will have another option to choose, she said.

However, she does not expect companies to make a full switch to Google's OS and it will be a "mixed environment" of different OSes in the enterprise.

Topics: Hardware, Apps, Mobility, Software, Tablets

About

The only journalist in the team without a Western name, Yun Qing hails from the mountainy Malaysian state, Sabah. She currently covers the hardware and networking beats, as well as everything else that falls into her lap, at ZDNet Asia. Her RSS feed includes tech news sites and most of the Cheezburger network. She is also a cheapskate mas... Full Bio

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