Line-of-business workers increasingly use smaller mobile devices, says VDC

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The use of smaller mobile devices--such as rugged handheld computers and smartphones--to support line-of-business workers across numerous sectors is on the rise, explains VDC Research.

VDC predicts that a total of 3.3 million rugged handheld devices and 34 million smartphones will be deployed in enterprises this year, which will push the installed base to almost 70 million units.

While the research firm forecasts enterprise mobility budgets to increase 10.6 percent on average, budget pressures and operating system uncertainty are expected to shift spending from rugged handheld devices to smartphones for line-of-business use. The availability of third party smartphone peripherals and accessories for data collection has aided the shift to smartphones.

In addition, the rugged device makers have shifted from data collection devices and PDAs to rugged smartphones--these are touch-based devices running Android with fully rugged environmental specifications. VDC expects the market for rugged smartphones to reach $3.8 billion by 2018.

According to VDC, one of the greatest obstacles for rugged device makers will be OS direction. The majority of rugged devices feature Windows Mobile or Embedded platforms approaching end-of-life, with the transition to Windows Embedded Handheld 8 not going smoothly. This has opened the door for Android to make in-roads on the rugged market, but Android faces challenges in terms of enterprise support and security.

"This has led to considerable hesitation, as end users aren't fully comfortable. As a result, VDC is seeing companies taking more of a 'wait and see' approach while maintaining their installed base," concludes VDC.

For more:
- see the VDC blog

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