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The next time FedEx comes to your office, you probably won’t notice that the
delivery guy isn’t turning his handheld around for you to put your mark. You
probably won’t even notice that the delivery guy is making entries into the
handheld while you’re pretending to scribble your signature.

It’s a small change in the new MC9500-K, the new handheld, wireless computer
released by Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions (EMS) this week. The device incorporates
a number of new features and innovations that Motorola says pushes applications
and information to mobile workers so they can make better decisions in the

“It’s about how we empower the individual,” says Gene Delaney, president of
Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions. “If we can empower the individual, we
empower the enterprise because better decisions can be made where users work.”

The MC9500 series, the first major handheld platform released by Motorola’s
Enterprise Mobility Solutions division in nearly six years, was designed with
mobile users and their varying operating environments in mind. Unlike its
predecessor, the MC9000, the new ruggedized device has more powerful processing
capabilities, easy adaptation for different types of networks and more
intelligence for device management.

The unit, which runs on Windows Mobile, features a large 3.7-inch color
touch-screen interface, an infrared scanner, a 3-megapixel high-resolution
camera, a Marvell PXA320 806MHz microprocessor, Bluetooth, an integrated cell
phone and GPS mapping. Many of these features
are already available in smartphones and other mobile devices. The inclusion of
such things as a camera and GPS gives users
the ability to use the MC9500 to take pictures of their field work and better
map their routes.

What makes the MC9500 different from competing products and its predecessor,
Motorola says, is the holistic design of the unit that makes it more
manageable, cost-effective and user-friendly.

The new motion-sensing technology enables the device to orient the screen
depending on the user’s motions. In the case of FedEx and UPS
drivers, the screen will automatically flip toward the recipient for signature;
that means the driver won’t have to physically turn the device or hand the
device to the recipient. The same sensor can tell when the device is laying
face down, which signals to power down the device to conserve battery life.

It sounds like a small change that will result in only fractions of a second
in time savings. But Motorola and FedEx, which provided input into the
MC9500-K’s design, say those seconds add up to thousands of workhours when the
cumulative actions of thousands of workers and millions of packages are taken
into consideration. 

The MC9500 is an adaptable platform that can be reconfigured for different
uses and different operating environments. Swappable components allow users to
change the types of wireless networks the device can operate with, including
3.5G broadband (GMS HSDPA and CDMA-EVDO). The device supports four different
keypads, each designed for specific uses and field environments.

Motorola took back-office management into consideration, replacing the
myriad recharging base stations with a rack storage system that recharges
batteries and provides network connectivity for management. The device itself
features tools for measuring battery power and life, giving users and
operations managers tools for planning battery inventories and replacement.

Motorola believes the MC9500 will find receptive customers and multiple
verticals, including transportation and shipping, distribution and logistics,
retail, health care, and government.

Enterprise mobility is no longer
a luxury, but a necessity, Delaney says. And Motorola’s independent software (ISV)
and reseller channels are essential parts of the go-to-market plan for the

Delaney and other Motorola executives say the MC9500’s extensible platform
will provide resellers with opportunities to sell consumables—such as batteries
and replacement parts—to users. The ongoing maintenance and services support
will provide after-market opportunities for resellers and support

David Kerbs, director the mobility and wireless practice at VDC Research,
says enterprises are looking for holistic, integrated mobility technologies to
create workflow efficiencies and reduce operating costs. Applications
integrated with mobile hardware platforms—such as supply chain management, CRM
and ERP—will add value to customers that have mobile work forces or want to put
more workers in field positions.

Delaney says Motorola’s plans for the MC9500 include ensuring that ISVs and
channel partners can write applications for the mobile device that align to
vertical markets and meet the specific needs of their customers.