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.
STRONG: Along With Moto Tablet, A Development PlatformHand-in-hand with the ET1 launch is the availability of what Motorola Solutions is calling RhoElements, a web-based application framework designed to allow businesses quick and easy development and deployment of business applications on their Motorola mobile devices. RhoElements will address not only the ET1 but also Motorola Solutions's existing mobile devices that run Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Windows CE.
The RhoElements platform came via Motorola Solutions' July acquisition of Rhomobile, and according to Safir, more mobile application development tools for customers and partners are coming. RhoElements 1.0, the initial release, offers support for HTML5 features ilke application caching and web storage.
Chris Koterski, vice president of mobile solutions at Stratix, a Norcross, Ga.-based solution provider and top Motorola partner, said the HTML5 support seen in RhoElements fits in with Stratix's own mobile application development strategy.
"We are excited to see that Motorola Solutions is truly showing market leadership by delivering the industry's first HTML5-based Webkit engine to Windows Mobile and Windows CE for its enterprise-class devices, which not only enable rich user interfaces but also integrate with critical device-level capabilities that are core to our business," Koterski said in a statement.
Motorola Solutions partners said they've seen a tighter channel focus and better partner incentives following the company's split from Motorola Mobility in early 2011. PartnerEmpower, an 18-month old channel program that represented a total revamp of Motorola's previous channel program, now offers more favorable deal registration terms and a range of other benefits, including what partners say is more opportunity to be rewarded for greater Motorola Solutions technical competency.
Motorola Solutions' mobile solutions business is one of three areas through which the company drives business through the channel, the others being radio and wireless network solutions.