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Motorola Solutions on Monday launched the ET1 Tablet, a tablet PC intended for enterprise-level deployments in a range of vertical markets. As the first Android-based tablet from Motorola Solutions, it joins a growing class of enterprise-focused tablets, such as the Cisco Cius and Avaya Desktop, targeted specifically at business users.
Motorola Mobility, which was spun off from Motorola Solutions and is currently being sold to Google, already has an Android-based tablet line, the Xoom. But the ET1 is the first Android tablet to come from Motorola Solutions, which houses the former Motorola's channel-facing business. It's therefore the first Motorola-branded Android tablet to be sold through solution providers.
Sheldon Safir, director of global partner marketing for Motorola Solutions, said Motorola Solutions is uniquely equipped to sell tablets through the channel to enterprises because it already has a thriving mobility practice featuring a range of other mobile computers, from the scanners it sells to transportation and retail customers to the digital assistants it provides to health care settings.
But the tablet form factor is a natural, he said, given the industry interest in tablets and the broad embrace of the Android platform.
"We've seen adoption of consumer devices coming into the enterprise market, so we looked at where do we have strengths, both in terms of market viability and what we build," Safir said in a recent interview with CRN. "We said, how can we make a tablet device that gives them the benefits of the consumer look and feel but the construction their customers are accustomed to coming from Motorola Solutions. Ultimately it's a better ROI and a lower total cost of ownership."
While several solution providers have developed mobility-focused practices around the security and infrastructure requirements of mobile devices, the actual resale and integration of tablets to business users has been a tougher nut to crack.
Apple's mighty iPad has made some enterprise inroads, but several tablets touted as enterprise-ready, including Android-based entries like Cisco's and Avaya's, are still making their way to market, and others have failed spectacularly, like HP's TouchPad.
The key, said Safir, was designing a device that would be an easy fit for environments such as retail and have enterprise-grade security features, but be as comfortable to use as a consumer tablet.
"We went really out of our way to make sure it feels good in your hand and it's a secure device," he said. "We built this from the groiundup to be a piece of a total mobility solution. It's not something you're going to have to wedge in to work with your other devices."
The ET1 sports a 7-inch color, capitative touch screen, Gorilla Glass display. It weighs 1.4 lbs and measures 5.1 inches by 0.97 inches by 8.8 inches, and can expand to 32 GB of memory with a micro SDHC card. It has two USB interfaces, as well, plus an HDMI-out slot, stereo speakers and dual microphones.
It features an optional, Bluetooth-enabled barcode scanner and magnetic stripe and mobile payment reader, hot-swappable battery packs -- with a memory back-up able to retain RAM data for 15 minutes during a battery change -- and a range of accessories such as secure, multi-slot recharging stations and a hand strap for easier, one-handed holding. It also offers front- and rear-facing cameras, the former for 720p video capture and the latter an 8-megapixel, auto-focus camera with LED flash, plus a gyroscope and various other sensors.
A Wi-Fi version will be available in the fourth quarter of 2011, running Android 2.3, with volume shipments starting in 2012. Motorola Solutions partners that are certified on the Mobile Solutions track within Motorola's PartnerEmpower program will be able to sell it immediately. With volume discounts, Safir said, list price is expected to be below $1,000 per unit.