Why Consumer Tablets Aren't Right for the Enterprise

Tablets are staking a strong claim in the enterprise, but consumer models are too fragile and unreliable to handle all-day fieldwork. Zebra Technologies offers a line of tablets engineered to withstand rough handling and deliver reliable productivity with a variety of OS choices and long-life batteries.

The market for tablet devices has expanded and contracted over the last few years, with initial predictions of growth now tempered by realities of slower-than-expected shipments and sales. One trend that hasn't shifted, however, is the increased role that tablets play in businesses.

Research firm Forrester pointed out the pattern in 2013 and again in 2015, predicting that by 2018, enterprise tablets will account for 20 percent of overall tablet sales, up from just 6 percent in 2010.

Forrester Principal Analyst J.P. Gownder explains that tablet computers are the right form factor for workers who aren't deskbound, such as drivers, retail associates, restaurant workers, field technicians, and many others. The abundance of use cases spells positive growth in enterprise adoption of tablets for the foreseeable future.

Too Fragile vs. Too Tough

That tablets make sense for fast-paced and active work environments is not a surprise, but one challenge that arises is the increased risk of damage from drops and rough handling. Consumer devices aren't durable enough for environments like warehouses, retail stores, healthcare facilities, and others where bumps and mishaps are frequent.

In fact, according to KRC Research, 50% of the mobile device users on the planet have experienced a cracked screen. And some reports suggest that almost three-quarters of business tablet failures are caused by drops and falls.

Again, this is isn't a new challenge. And the industry has responded with an entire class of ruggedized devices that are designed to withstand extreme temperatures, moisture, and impacts. The problem with these devices is that they're significantly heavier and more expensive than their consumer counterparts, and all the added padding and hardened materials make them most suitable for military and first-responder use cases. For a retail or healthcare worker, for example, they're simply overkill.

What's needed for this vast addressable market is a tablet purpose-built for enterprise use cases: strong enough to handle everyday drops and spills, but still lightweight and ergonomically comfortable enough for all-day use.

Introducing Zebra ET50 and ET55

Zebra Technologies is a recognized leader in mobile logistics devices such as handheld scanners, portable printers, and sensors. The same expertise has now been applied to business-grade tablets: the ET50 and ET55.

The ET50 features WiFi connectivity for WLAN environments, and the ET55 adds LTE connectivity for workers who venture beyond WiFi range and need reliable WAN access. Both are available in 8-inch and 10-inch sizes, and with a choice of Android or Windows 10 operating systems.

These popular operating systems and the vast app ecosystems associated with them ensure that the ET50 and ET55 integrate smoothly with enterprise mobile device management (MDM) frameworks for remote provisioning, secure authentication, and policy enforcement.

These tablets are IP65 rated for dust- and water-resistance, and they're constructed of durable materials that can withstand a 1-meter (3.2-foot) drop. With an optional rugged frame, that drop resistance almost doubles to 1.8 meters.

In addition, both feature long-life batteries, with the option for a spare battery integrated into a carrying handle, so workers can swap batteries on the fly and ensure that they're productive even when there's no place to plug in.

Accessories and Support

As a corollary to the trends cited by Forrester, research firm IDC confirms that enterprise tablets are gaining in popularity, specifically because they come with a wide assortment of business-friendly add-ons and accessories, such as detachable keyboards and docks.

The Zebra ET50 and ET55 are part of a broad ecosystem of accessories both general and task-specific. We mentioned the carrying handle with integrated battery and the rugged frames; Zebra also offers barcode scanners, card readers, mobile printers, belt holsters, and single- and multi-slot cradles.

The devices are also backed by enterprise-class support plans. Zebra offers a next-day replacement option that helps minimize downtime and keep workers productive even in the unlikely event that a device does need repair.

Zebra ET50 and ET55 tablets are purpose-built for active, all-day environments like those in retail, manufacturing, fieldwork, warehouses, and healthcare. They deliver the optimal combination of durability and comfort, with a wide variety of accessories to maximize their utility for a range of industries.

To learn more about Zebra tablets, visit www.zebra.com/et5x.