Bluebird's new ruggedized handheld can run Android, Windows Phone variant

Bluebird's new ruggedized handheld can run Android, Windows Phone variant

Summary: A ruggedized handheld device from Korea's Bluebird offers customers a choice of Android or the Windows Embedded 8 Handheld operating system on a single form factor.

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There's been a lot of talk in the past couple of weeks about whether Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone OS could and should coexist on a single device and/or form factor.

bluebirdwinembeddedandroid

It turns out that at least one OEM already has put Android and an embedded variant of the Windows Phone OS on a single form factor. That OEM is Bluebird, a Korean handheld mobile device provider.

Bluebird announced the new five-inch device, which it is calling BM180, on January 17. The press release announcing the device interestingly doesn't mention Android at all; it focuses on Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, which is based on the Windows Phone 8 core. (There's also a new BP30 model mentioned in Bluebird's press release, which is an even more ruggedized version of the BM180.)

Thanks to a tip from @WP_Downunder's "Sheeds," I was able to grab the full specs and details about the coming device before they seemingly disappeared from Bluebird's Web site, which has been largely unavailable today.

According to Bluebird's brochure, the BM180 the "world('s) first & biggest screen smart terminal." It can run either Android 4.2 or the preview version of Windows Embedded 8 Handheld in "one form factor."

Minus the different buttons along the bottom of the devices, the BM180 whether running Android or Windows Embedded 8 looks identical, as can be seen from the screen shot at the top of this post, which I grabbed from Bluebird's brochure.

Here's another shot from Bluebird's brochure that emphasizes the choice of operating system on the device.

bluebirdBM180

Various reports have claimed that Microsoft has held discussions with hardware makers about the possibilities of putting Android and Windows Phone both on a single device. I've heard the more likely discussions have been around creating single form-factor phones that could be provisioned to run either Android or the Windows Phone OS by customers and/or carriers. Microsoft officials have declined to comment on those reports.

Bluebird is one of a handful of OEMs which announced it was joining Microsoft's Windows Embedded 8 Handheld program in January 2013. The other original four partners in the program were Honeywell, Ingenico, Intermec and Motorola Solutions. (Panasonic announced at this year's NRF its intentions to build a Windows Embedded 8 Handheld device, as well.) In January 2013, Bluebird officials said they wanted their unannounced Embedded 8 Handheld device "to be the first on the market."

The Windows Embedded 8 Handheld operating system is built on the Windows Phone 8 core. Developers can write applications for Windows Embedded 8 Handheld ruggedized devices by using the Windows Phone 8 SDK. Because of the compatibility with Windows Phone 8, these devices will be able to support off-the-shelf business and productivity apps like Microsoft Lync, Office 365 and Dynamics for Retail, Microsoft officials have said.

A year ago, Microsoft officials said to expect the first ruggedized handheld phones running Windows Embedded 8 Handheld to be in the market in late 2013 or early 2014. I just learned today that Microsoft quietly RTM'd the Windows Embedded 8 Handheld operating system in August 2013, and released it to its OEMs at that time.

Bluebird's press release noted that the new ruggedized handhelds are targeted at enterprise customers (not consumers) and that some unnamed "major" U.S. retailers are in line to buy these devices.

So what to make of this single form factor running a choice of Android or a Windows Phone OS variant? Is it a precedent of similar things to come on the consumer side of mobile devices? Personally, I'm not sure at this point.

Topics: Windows Phone, Android, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Smartphones

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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26 comments
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  • I wish i could put wp8 on my S4

    i'd pay $100 for it easy.

    no more lag and return of the hubs
    everss02
    • Just wondering

      Why did u not buy windows phone in the first place instead of your S4? Was it a gift from someone?
      Koymik
      • work phone

        had a att nokia 920 , can't use on verizion, otherwise I would just pop the work in that.

        I guess could of kept two phones, but $100/month for the att isn't worth it. Plus carrying two phones everywhere, 3 when on call sucked a**.

        Ported my personal number to google voice, work phone works the same for both numbers with google voice, only unable to text pictures on google number, not a big issue to use work number.

        I'll probably buy a 929 full price when it comes out, that's $500/600 probably, though I'm saving $1200/year(probably $2000 pre-taxes) with no cell phone bill.
        everss02
    • Agreed

      I always wondered why Samsung couldn't release the S4 for both OS's? Same hardware should work fine. What's the deal Mary Jo Foley, do you know why ?
      Sean Foley
    • how much is MS paying per comment these days?

      just curious.
      drwong
      • It must be paying a lot to MS trolls

        because there seems to be more and more of them . . . LD, Owl"net, William. Farrell, Sean Foley . . . the list goes on and on.
        1,2,3
        • Ironic.

          You call them MS trolls, but you two are the only noticeable trolls here.

          So which one of you two are abusing the Flag function?
          ForeverCookie
          • Agreed. It seems they don't like people refuting their "facts"

            so to them anyone who says a good word about an MS product, or isn't posting just to rip MS to pieces HAS to be a troll in their mind, as they've already convinced themselves that everyone who doesn't work for MS, hates MS.

            A last line of defense for them when their back's to the wall, I imagine.
            William.Farrel
          • Seriously?

            This is the FIRST comment I have seen from 'One left foot' while it is the 100th comment from you. In case you did not know a troll is not simply someone who disagrees with you. Luddite!
            DontUseMicrosoftAtAll
      • There's an easy way to figure that, DrWong

        Find out what people like One left foot, Vbitrate, FrankInKY, jessepollard, get paid from Google and Apple, and double that to cover taxes and insurance (as the bloggers work for themselves), and you'll get your answer, or close to it.

        Though the above mentioned ABM trolls may not want to cooperate with your investigation of that....
        William.Farrel
        • Personally, I don't get anything...

          A fair amount of entertainment value from the MS trolls though.
          :)
          jessepollard
      • pretty good

        Well, Microsoft is paying me $99 per comment.

        Wanna join the program?
        andreir23@...
        • M$ is paying your better than Machinima

          http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/01/stealth-marketing-microsoft-paying-youtubers-for-xbox-one-mentions/
          FrankInKy
  • Raise patent costs of Android

    MS should just raise the cost of patents in Android, so that licensing Android is the same as licensing WP variants. This would eliminate the price advantage of Android, and help re-establish the value of software in the consumer market.
    P. Douglas
    • They should just give windows phone away for free.

      Right now they need market share before they try monetizing windows phone too much. Plus they can likely make a lit of it up through app purchases anyway.
      Sam Wagner
      • Better to use stores in stores

        As far as I'm concerned, the most effective thing MS can do to rapidly increase market share, is establish stores in stores, pop up stores, etc. all over the globe, and short circuit going through retail salespeople, who are predominantly pro iOS / Android.
        P. Douglas
        • Sales people prefering iOS and Android is definitely a problem.

          Especially now that the app gap is much smaller than it used to be, which seems to be peoples number one complaint. They've been doing the stores in stores thing with best buy, but they could definitely expand more on that. On a side note, personally I think they should standardize phones (hardware buttons mostly) and make them more like PCs, so you can install whatever OS you desire.
          Sam Wagner
          • You have reached enlightenment.

            'Nuff said.
            Subsentient
    • After all, android is most own by MS.

      Even though android is a public software base on the old linux kernel, MS owns android's major patents, has made it widely usable. So, it makes sense when OEM negotiates a packed deal with microsoft's android and windows OS'S. It's a smart way for microsoft to sell more android patents while spreading their less popular WP 8. No matter how you cut it it's a win-win for Microsoft, while making OEM more marketable.
      virgilnet
    • Raise them enough and end up in court.

      And the junk patents get thrown out...
      jessepollard