Smartphones in Industrial Environments – How Does Price Rank as a Consideration?

In an earlier note on Honeywell Scanning & Mobility’s white paper, Are Smartphones and Tablets Suitable for Use in Warehouse and Distribution Center Operations?, I admitted my surprise at a survey conclusion that “user acceptance” (83%) was exceeded only by ruggedness/durability (90%) and uptime/minimal downtime (89%) in rank of concerns about deployment of consumer smartphones and tablets in warehouse and logistics environments.

Another surprise was that “price of equipment” was, at just 46%, well down the list at sixth behind “easy to use” (70%), “would improve productivity” (56%), “would better optimize labor resources” (56%), “customer service would improve” (53%) and “scanning capabilities” (49%) on that survey’s list of “Benefits in Using Smartphones and/or Tablets.” Tied was “capitalizes on leading-edge technology” at 46%, and close behind at 45% were “these are easily replaceable commodity items,” “can run a breadth of applications” and “would help control costs.”

Are Smartphones and Tablets Suitable for Use in Warehone and Distribution Center Operations? Honeywell, 2012.

Given the relative price advantages of the consumer market’s huge economies of scale, I assumed that those price advantages would represent the major consideration in deployment of these devices and, once again, I was wrong. Savy warehouse and logistics managers know that price is a one-time decision factor while the costs associated with factors such as ease of use and optimization of labor resources are repeated man hour after man hour. Given that more experienced perspective, it’s easy to see why “price advantage” was stuck in the middle of the investment-consideration pack.

Hmm, a smartphone that delivers the material advantages of consumer devices, such as ease of use, user familiarity and ease of application development, while answering the challenges to deployment of those devices, such as durability, compatibility with enterprise platforms and scanning ability, all at a budget-friendly long-term cost? That might represent the “Holy Grail” to logistics managers! Although Honeywell’s white paper was clearly not published in promotion of its new ruggedized, enterprise-ready Dolphin 70e Black smartphone, the survey data it reports nevertheless argues quite favorably for the Black.

Meanwhile, I found even more surprising nuggets in the white paper and will soon post another note or two on those as well.