Zebra targets new SMB markets with new TC20 Android enterprise smartphone

The TC20 comes with feature functionality geared for SMB rather than enterprise, and a pricing model that eliminates the gulf between list and street prices that characterizes the enterprise mobility market.

Zebra Technologies has announced the TC20 smartphone, a new rugged mobile computer explicitly aimed at penetrating the SMB space, particularly segments which haven’t used enterprise grade devices.

“This is the first time we have ever designed a product that fits the need of the SMB market, not just from a hardware perspective, but with a channel-centric pricing and go-to-market,” said Mike Petersen, Head of Global Solutions Marketing at Zebra.

Zebra has reaped benefits from its earlier establishing of a strong presence in the Android space.

“We made a strategic move into Android 4-5 years ago, and made major investments in that area,” Petersen said. “That led to a suite of products and applications to make it easier to use at the enterprise level, and the result is that we have the lion’s share on Android, with it being about 80 per cent of our sales. It is a hard market to break into and even Microsoft is pulling out, ending support for Windows embedded handheld and CE at the end of the decade, so that they will have gone from 99 per cent market share to zero in a few years.”

All of this pertains directly to the TC20, which addresses a part of the market where Zebra has less success in the past than in the enterprise, not so much because of a lack of appropriate product but because of an inappropriate go-to-market strategy for this segment.

“Ten years ago, SMBs bought either a consumer product or enterprise product, and there wasn’t much in between,” Petersen said. “We had some successes here, with some major retailers switching from Apple to Zebra because Apple didn’t meet enterprise grade needs. Our TC51 and TC56 products are mid grade, and do sell into SMB. The TC 20 is more focused though on this part of the market.”

The TC20 is geared at providing the level of technical support that SMB light retail and hospitality want in a durable phone.

“Enterprise battery life, performance, and features can be overkill for light retail, but iPhones or Samsungs still aren’t a good fit for their application,” Petersen said.  The TC20 design is designed to withstand dusty environments and accidental drops. It is designed for 1D and 2D barcode scanning, and when paired with the Zebra RFD2000 UHF RFID sled can perform UHF RFID tag reading, writing and locationing.

“The product is designed for better battery life, a better scanning system, and a secure OS,” Petersen said. “For instance, it has a built-in enterprise grade scanner,” Petersen stated. “You can scan products from a consumer grade, and that works fine – unless you do it 100 times a day. With the TC20, the processing power resides within the scanner itself, which makes it super-fast and snappy.”

Petersen said that the TC20 has strong potential in the SMB space because it isn’t priced like enterprise products –  and it’s not simply a question of cutting the price.

“The problem is the way the channel works and pricing works for these devices in the enterprise,” he said. “You have your list price, and then you have your street price, but the SMB look at the list price and sees a huge delta with the consumer products,” Petersen said. “This works for enterprise buyers who are used to it, but it doesn’t work for SMBs.”

With the TC20, the price point is adjusted, with the suggested retail price being lowered but the discount given to channel partners increased to let them make the same amount of money on a sale.

“This eliminates the sticker shot created by enterprise mobile computing’s wide pricing gap between list and retail,” Petersen emphasized.

Other Zebra functionality in the TC20 include Zebra OneCare LifeGuard for Android, which provides extended security updates over its lifespan, Workforce Connect Push-To-Talk Express, which allows communication over the wireless LAN one-on-one or to groups, and  their Mobility DNA code that upgrades Android to enterprise grade.

“We see the TC20 opening up new channels as well as strengthening existing ones,” Petersen added. “The VARs who specialize in this space are not the same VARs as the ones who serve larger accounts.  We need a channel for this that specializes in SMB. It does mean recruiting a few more partners, and getting ones we already have who sell consumer devices to this segment to look at the TC20 for it.”