Can Dolphin 6000 Unseat Consumer Mobiles in the Workplace?
Honeywell produces a huge range of products for a multitude of different industries, and now the company is focusing on one of the largest emerging industries: mobile. Its latest offering, the Dolphin 6000, is designed to provide mobile information to workers in the field or warehouses. But rather than position Dolphin against other industrial handhelds, Honeywell instead is pitting it against consumer devices that perform similar functions. Can Honeywell be successful with such a strategy?
We’ve covered companies that provide rugged mobiles in the past, including Intermec, Motion Computing and GammaTech to name a few, but Honeywell hasn’t until now lit up our radar. The Dolphin 6000 is the first in what Honeywell has termed ScanPhone technology, a device that ” bridges the gap between consumer mobile phones, industrial mobile computers and bar code scanners.” Honeywell apparently thinks companies would rather use such a device for their employees instead of outfitting consumer devices with hardware or software add-ons.
Field sales and retail logistics are some of the applications the Dolphin 6000 has been built for, along with fast data entry and easy device management with Honeywell’s Remote MasterMind software suite.
Underneath the hood, the Dolphin 6000 runs Windows Mobile 6.5, which Honeywell said it chose to ensure software compatibility with popular mobile business software. It’s an interesting move, and it’s one that Motorola also chose to make with a similar device in December 2010.
True, the Dolphin 6000 is more rugged than traditional smart phones, and features a long-lasting battery, WiFI, GPS, Bluetooth and more, but I question the device’s ease of use and application reliability. Anyone who has ever used Windows Mobile knows it can be hit-or-miss at times. I’ve used the OS in both personal and professional applications, and both times it was finicky and cumbersome.
Apple has transitioned to using its own devices with custom attachments, as are many small businesses. The Square mobile payment device, for example, runs on both Android and iOS. Plus, many smartphones can read bar-codes simply with their cameras. The Dolphin 6000 isn’t available, so it’s not clear if it reads bar-codes in much the same way or with a built-in laser scanner.
The Dolphin 6000 is aimed at larger corporations, retail outlets and maybe even the local delivery guy. Honeywell doesn’t have a price tag on the item yet, but it’s likely the Dolphin 6000 is perfect in batches of 10 or 20, with multiple employees roughing them up on a daily basis. Couple that with the Remote MasterMind software to maintain and manage the mobile fleet, and companies could have a nice little mobile setup.
But I still have to wonder how long this model will last. Purpose-driven Windows Mobile devices have been around for a long time, but at some point, there will need to be an upgrade or an update. Microsoft has made an effort to update its aging OS line with Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, but I believe that cheaper Android alternatives could quickly and easily replace these Windows-powered devices in a few short years.