Symbol Intros New Class of PDAs

By Colin C. Haley

October 19, 2004

The company unveils a new line to fill the gap between its own ruggedized handhelds and off-the-shelf PDAs.

Symbol Technologies will unveil a new product line today aimed at filling the gap between its own "ruggedized" handhelds and off-the-shelf consumer PDAs.

The MC50 enterprise digital assistants (EDA) are designed for workers who need to be out of the office, but can't afford to be out of touch with the company's data.

For example, a retail store manager on a sales floor could monitor and manage merchandise pricing, availability and other real-time retail management applications with the MC50.

Other possible users include pharmaceutical sales representatives who have to file paperwork and check orders from the road and IT managers who oversee server farms, network operation centers or data storage facilities, Symbol said.

Douglas H. Lloyd, Symbol's director of product marketing, said it doesn't make sense for enterprises to buy consumer PDAs from Palm, Dell or others.

"The challenge all these organizations have is the shortening lifecycle (of PDA products/software) and lack of focus on business applications," Lloyd told

The devices run on Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition operating system and integrated Wi-Fi networking. Voice over Internet Protocol applications can be deployed enabling in-building and on-campus communications. Bar code scanning technology allows users to configure their own devices, which could save IT staff hours of mundane work.

Field testing has been underway since June. The devices will be available by year's end and will range in price between $925 to $1,200 each.

In conjunction with the handhelds, the Holtsville, N.Y., company is introducing a Mobility Services Platform to manage them. The first version supports several hundred units, while the second can run up to 2,000 machines. They cost is $10,000 and $50,000, respectively.

With the MSP, enterprise operations personnel can provision software upgrades and fixes with a single command, as well as perform remote user support and diagnostics.

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