Analysing Acquisitions and Consolidation in the Rugged Mobility Market

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It is no secret that the market for rugged mobile technology has been under scrutiny to an extent in recent years.

The rugged market has faced a stern challenge from lower-cost and easier to use consumer devices within the workplace regardless of industry, but has continued to prove that its place within the broader spectrum of Enterprise Mobility is justified.

The demand for specialist rugged technology has remained fairly consistent across a number of verticals, which has demonstrated, and perhaps reminded many of the importance of solutions which can meet the specific requirements of their enterprises users.

However, the rugged market has also adapted to ensure its progression and sustainability. Solution providers have evolved in their offerings to ensure that dedicated ruggedised devices are able to compete with more streamlined consumer smartphones and tablets, concentrating more energy on optimising the user experience and device speed for field technicians and other primary users. There has also been a shift towards the Android operating system gaining significant momentum in use on rugger mobile devices.

Additionally, an interesting trend which has been driving the rugged market forward in 2015 is a number of partnerships, mergers and acquisitions from solution providers which have brought on consolidation in what has been a notoriously fragmented marketplace, and offered users greater depth in the range of products and services available.

This consolidation has been a gradual yet overarching theme within the market for rugged mobile solutions, as companies have sought to bolster their positioning with an expanded product portfolio and additional market share, competitive advantages which come as a result of strategic partnerships and acquisitions.

Among this activity was the February announcement that Janam Technologies LLC would be partnering with T-Mobile distributor One Shop Wireless on a new Simply Connected promotion, giving customers that use Janamã??s rugged tablets access to everything needed to deploy a mobile solution, including T-Mobile's DataStrong network, in one comprehensive package.

Honeywell also announced earlier this year the successful acquisition of Datamax-O'Neil, a global manufacturer of fixed and mobile printers used in a variety of retail, warehouse and distribution, and health care applications. Honeywell in particular has prospered as an acquirer of companies, having also acquired Hand Held Products, Metrologic, EMS Technologies and Intermec since 2007.

Furthermore, it was announced last month that Motion Computing, one of the largest global providers of rugged mobile hardware, had been acquired by Xplore Technologies Corp. ã??The acquisition of Motion is consistent with our goal to establish the best and broadest line of rugged tablets for the enterprise market,ã?쳌 said Philip Sassower, Chairman and CEO of Xplore.

Clearly, solution providers are aware that the opportunity is there for them to use consolidation as a way to support organic growth and accelerate their prominence within the market.

Without even yet mentioning high profile past acquisitions such as that of Motorola Solutionsã?? Enterprise Business by Zebra Technologies in 2014, it is evident that this trend is and has been slowly re-shaping the landscape of rugged mobile computing.

While the approach in the wider mobility market might suggest being more cautious given residual economic uncertainties and fragility, rugged solution providers continue to focus on the potential steps ahead and are willing to capitalise on the potential acquisitions which present themselves.

The complexion of the rugged mobile technology market through 2015 and into next year is certainly more positive than it has been in previous years. The market has adapted and evolved according to the developments happening around it, and it will be important for solution providers to remain focused on innovating with their products to keep up with the consumer devices which threaten their use cases in the enterprise.

It is yet to be seen whether or not any game-changing acquisitions or partnerships will emerge later in 2015, but with the introduction of rugged wearable devices and similar technological advancements, there are valuable resources and expertise available to be leveraged.