Touted as the world's first enterprise tablet, the Motorola ET1 is the first of a family of touch screen, ruggedized computers that will be sold to companies wishing to modernize their workforce without compromising on durability, configurability and branding.
Touch-screen tablets are arriving from all directions, each trying to offer all the features of an Apple iPad, but without addressing the issues that prevent enterprises from retrofitting them to the needs of existing personnel. HP promised an enterprise tablet, but did not deliver, and Apple seems content to produce delicate instruments that ignore issues such as breakage when they are dropped.
Motorola's first enterprise tablet (ET1) gives sales, marketing, servicing, warehousing and delivery personnel a ruggedized alternative to consumer-grade tablets.
Motorola Solutions, on the other hand, already supplies businesses nationwide with ruggedized mobile computers running Windows Embedded Handheld (aka Windows Mobile) and Windows Embedded Compact (aka Win-CE). These devices are used by retailers at the point-of-sale, by inventory personnel in the warehouse, and by delivery and service personnel in the field. By adding the ruggedized Android-based ET1 with a seven-inch touch-screen to the mix, Motorola Solutions claims to be offering the world's first enterprise-ready, secure tablet for businesses wishing to "be cool" like an iPad, but without the risk and expense of a using a consumer-grade appliance.
The ET1 has all the features necessary for the enterprise, such as extra thick Corning Gorilla Glass that keeps the touch-screen from breaking even if dropped daily. A removable bezel around the ruggedized touch-screen will allow a company to customize the tablet with its own logo and branding medallions. Hot-swappable battery packs allow the ET1 to be shared among users who can keep the device running 24/7. Secure log-in features allow the ET1 to be instantly provisioned depending on a user's security clearances. And a wide variety of accessories--from barcode scanners to magnetic stripe readers--allow the ET1 to substitute for a cash-register for sales personnel and an inventory computer for stock clerks.
Applications which run on Motorola's existing Windows-based handhelds also run on the ET1, including an assisted sales app, a mobile point-of-sale app, an electronic dashboard for managers, a planogram management app, and an item locator. A new HTML5 app development environment called RhoElements was also announced. RhoElements leverages Motorola’s existing PocketBrowser developers’ suite to enable ET1 customers to create their own enterprise apps for deployment on its Android-based tablet, or on Motorola's Windows Embedded Handhelds.
The first version of the ET1 is WiFi only for applications within the four walls of an enterprise, but Motorola Solutions said that wide-area network (WAN) versions will be available too in 2012. The ET1 will be delivered to large enterprise customers, such as retail chain stores, in the fourth quarter of 2011, in time for the Christmas season.
R. Colin Johnson has been writing non-stop daily stories about next-generation electronics and related technologies for 20+ years. His unique perspective has prompted coverage of his articles by a diverse range of major media outlets--from the ultra-liberal National Public Radio to the ultra-conservative Rush Limbaugh Show.