Motorola Solutions has unveiled a ruggedised device based on Android for the enterprise market that blends the capabilities of a smartphone with those of a traditional enterprise PDA. It also said that the version of Android it runs will be available as an upgrade for existing Motorola devices.
Available from mid October, the TC55 Touch Computer has a 4.3in touchscreen and resembles a slightly chunky smartphone when compared with the latest consumer devices.
However, the TC55 has a number of enterprise-grade features, including a touchscreen that can be used with gloves, support for stylus input for signatures, barcode capture capability and IP67 rating for dust and water protection.
It also features Motorola Extensions (MX) to make the Android operating system more enterprise ready, with security enhancements and hooks for device management tools, and is designed for a longer lifecycle than the typical smartphone.
Motorola said it had designed the TC55 in response to customer feedback from using consumer-grade smartphones in the workplace, especially with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, where employees use their own choice of device for work.
Motorola's Europe, Middle East and Africa product manager Andy McBain said that consumer devices do not have the security, reliability or service life that enterprises expect in equipment, and that businesses have found that consumer kit can lead to a higher total cost of ownership (TCO) over several years.
"Our devices are a lot more robust, from a physical as well as a security point of view," he said.
With the entry model of the TC55 coming in at $1049 (£646), the device does not carry a price tag much greater than the SIM-free cost of many high-end smartphones, and is much less expensive than traditional enterprise mobility devices.
Despite this, the TC55 comes with service and support built into the price, including a guaranteed three-day repair or replacement turnaround for customers in North America and Europe, according to McBain.
The TC55 itself weighs about 220g with its standard battery, which is removable so users can carry a spare. Battery life should be about 11 hours, according to Motorola.
It is based on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor backed by 1GB memory and 8GB flash storage, the latter of which can be expanded via a micro SD slot.
In Europe, the TC55 only supports HSPA+ networks, while US customers can enjoy 4G LTE support. This is because the frequencies across much of Europe had not been specified when the device was being designed, Motorola said.
The device also has an integrated barcode scanner, while its 8MP camera is also optimised for scanning rather than taking photos.
Meanwhile, Motorola settled on Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 for the operating system in the TC55 because Microsoft Windows Embedded – the traditional platform for enterprise mobility devices – has been allowed to stagnate, McBain said.
However, it also includes Motorola's Extensions (MX) for Android, which add security, device management and performance extensions to the base operating system.
MX is "not a customised version of Android" and does not affect application compatibility, McBain said.
Motorola said that the Android platform plus MX extensions will also be available as an update for some of the firm's existing devices, such as the ET1 Enterprise Tablet and MC40 Mobile Computer, plus the MC67 Enterprise PDA currently based on Microsoft's Windows Embedded platform.
Motorola Solutions is a separate company from the consumer Motorola Mobility division that was acquired by Google in 2012.
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