Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI) plans to introduce a rugged handheld computer based on Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Windows 8 software, providing an alternative to laptops for police, factory employees and other blue-collar workers.
Motorola Solutions is developing a number of devices with the so-called embedded version of the new Windows 8 operating system, Chief Executive Officer Greg Brown said today in an interview. The planned tablet-style device, which has a keypad and resembles gadgets used in inventory management, will be available in the second half of 2013 or early 2014, he said.
Motorola Solutions, which split from Motorola’s phone business in January 2011, already sells a rugged tablet running on Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android software. The new Microsoft-based handheld computer will make it easier for customers to exchange with a Windows laptop and could challenge Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s efforts to push the consumer-friendly iPad deeper into the workplace.
Microsoft’s “applications being ported to embedded Windows 8 is a big deal for this niche market,” Brown said. “We’re as well-positioned as anybody, given the scale of the devices we have and the relationship we have with Microsoft.”
Microsoft, drawing on its three decades of supplying personal-computer software to companies, is positioning Windows 8 gear as a workplace alternative to the iPad and Android products. Buyers of rugged devices, which include police and other first responders, are eager to use Windows 8, Brown said. Government customers account for about two-thirds of revenue for Motorola Solutions, which makes two-way radios, bar-code scanners and other equipment.
The Schaumburg, Illinois-based company is seeking new sources of growth after delivering a forecast today that missed analysts’ estimates. Motorola Solutions expects revenue to rise 4 percent to 5 percent in the first quarter. That compared with the 6 percent projected on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Profit from continuing operations will be between 62 and 67 cents a share in the period, the company said. Analysts had estimated 67 cents.
Motorola Solutions shares rose 0.4 percent to $58.54 at the close in New York. The stock rose 20 percent in 2012.
The company doesn’t disclose sales of its existing rugged tablets and has no plans to enter the broader tablet market and compete with consumer devices, Brown said. It’s a very competitive field that doesn’t play to the company’s strengths as a maker of niche industrial equipment, he said.
Motorola Solutions leads the market for rugged tablet-style computers, with its biggest competition coming from Honeywell International Inc. (HON), Brown said.
“We’re the clear No. 1, with reasonable distance between us and the No. 2 player,” he said.
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