Samsung on Sunday launched the Galaxy XCover Pro, a smartphone that's rugged yet thin enough to resemble a consumer device, with plans to target frontline workers along with partner Microsoft, which is adding digital push-to-talk features and Teams.
The combination of Microsoft Teams and Samsung's flagship B2B device represents the first enterprise effort between the two companies, which outlined a broad partnership last year.
If all goes well for Samsung and Microsoft, Galaxy XCover Pro will be a carrier pigeon for Teams as the two companies target multiple industries. Both Samsung and Microsoft are chasing the frontline worker customer base to join the likes of Workplace by Facebook, Slack, and a bevy of others.
Also: Microsoft to add new firstline-worker features, like 'Walkie Talkie' voice calls, to Teams
The general theme is that enabling technology for frontline workers can make enterprises perform better. The XCover Pro is designed for multiple use cases such as point-of-sale, inventory, and logistics, to name a few. These frontline worker devices are often shared among workers.
According to DJ Koh, CEO of the IT and mobile communications division at Samsung, the launch of XCover Pro represents an "increased investment and commitment to the B2B market." For Microsoft, XCover Pro will give the company a key lever to distribute Teams to more users.
Vineet Taneja, group product manager for Teams for Firstline, said the collaboration with Samsung is about enabling workers in places that have been "traditionally underserved by technology." Taneja said that the walkie-talkie features embedded in the XCover Pro would save enterprises money on provisioning while enabling cloud-based collaboration.
Taneja said Teams is often competing with consumer chat apps in bringing your own device arrangements that aren't well controlled by corporations. "We are seeing more and more companies acquiring shared devices for front-line workers that are handed off," he said. "One large retailer in the US has 90,000 shared devices. It's a trend we're seeing in multiple industries."
That trend is one reason that Samsung is looking to take its devices that are designed for consumers and that premium knowhow to B2B purpose-built devices. Samsung executives noted that the XCover Pro, which will go for $499, is designed to consolidate devices for frontline workers while being light, durable, and contemporary. Most ruggedized devices are bulky.
Samsung's Galaxy XCover Pro is optimized for a bevy of industries but is expected to apply to retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics.
Samsung also added that the XCover Pro would be customized via the company's partner network for multiple use cases. XCover Pro is equipped with a mobile point of sale terminal that's approved for Visa's Tap to Phone pilot program.