Here’s a bit of news of interest to our user community. From Reuters: Honeywell sees slow 2013, to buy Intermec for $600 million.
This comes shortly after Motorola Solutions’ acquisition of rugged device manufacturer Psion, announced in June 2012 and completed in October 2012.
The year 2012 has been one of consolidation, but not innovation. We’ve been anxiously awaiting a sign that the rugged device market would adopt more modern operating system platforms than the Windows Embedded platform we’ve been stuck on for so many years. The two most obvious directions to head for these manufacturers would be Android and Windows 8 Embedded.
In February 2012, Intermec’s longtime CTO Arvin Danielson had some harsh words for Microsoft and their handling of the forthcoming release of Windows 8. Read the article for the full quotation, but the sentiment was that Arvin and Intermec had been stymied waiting for Microsoft to clue them in as to when Windows 8 would be available to OEMs. As a result, to this day there is no news that Windows 8 RT (the version of Windows 8 that runs on ARM CPUs) or Windows 8 Embedded is coming to rugged devices any time soon. The earliest we’ve been told to expect Windows 8 Embedded from Motorola is 2014.
Will the market wait until 2014 for Windows 8 Embedded, or will Android become the dominant platform for the rugged space in 2013?
Several Android rugged devices with scanning capabilities now exist:
- Honeywell Dolphin 7800
- Motorola Solutions MC40 and MC45, which can’t be found anywhere on their site, but Google returned this pdf containing no specs
- SDG Systems / Juniper RAMPAGE 6
- Pidion by Bluebird will have 4 Android devices soon.
- BP70 10.1" tablet IP65
- BP50 7" tablet IP65
- BIP-6000 handheld
- BM-70 smartphone
There are other manufacturers in the game as well. I found a thorough rugged Android device list. Most do not have scanning capability but could work with an external Bluetooth scanner.
Motorola and Honeywell are now the two remaining big players. They have done some experimentation and hedging with Android devices while waiting for Microsoft to get its story straight for Windows 8 Embedded. They are in the best position to know whether the market is really hungry for alternative OS devices, and we’ll be watching their next moves closely.