Symbol Offers Rugged PDA for ‘Gray Collar’ Workers

Symbol Technologies has leveraged its experience in developing rugged personal digital assistants (PDA) and other mobile devices in the creation of its newest product, the MC50 enterprise digital assistant.

Priced from US$925 to $1,200 and based on Microsoft Windows’ Mobile 2003 platform, the device offers built-in WiFi for phone, walkie-talkie and data networking services, as well as a barcode scanner and digital camera.

Many of the features are particular to the “gray collar” worker — retail managers, pharmaceutical sales representatives, real estate professionals and other mobile staff who need more than just a consumer-grade PDA with a rubber cover.

Road Warriors

Symbol, known for its hard-case handhelds used in industry, government and retail sectors, has designed this product to fit into corporate budgets as well as back pockets. The company’s other products are priced out of the middle-management road-warrior market.

“The main element of it is its durability and its design for users where more consumer-oriented products wouldn’t hold up but where Symbol’s other products might be too expensive,” said Alex Slawsby, senior analyst of mobile devices at IDC.

“There really have been very few devices that attempt to play in this durable market,” he continued.

“Some developers have tried to leverage a waterproof or shockproof, rubberized case, but no one has built a product that tried to be horizontal and vertical” — that is, offered a product with advanced features and a rugged form. “Up until now, the target has had a sub-optimal product.”

Sony, Palm, HP

Symbol leaves Sony, Palm and HP PDAs in the dust with the combination of a tough exterior and an interior packed with features such as VoIP, imaging support and data management. These features of the Symbol, Slawsby told CRM Buyer, “are basically its competitive advantage.”

“I’m not expecting a revival of the PDA industry and similar products from every developer, but if it takes off, we may seem some vendors develop competitive products,” he added. “Symbol is introducing a change in the industry.”

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