General-purpose PDAs and ruggedized enterprise mobile computers are made for separate markets, are designed for different tasks, and also vary by their size, weight and materials. But the biggest difference between these device types is their total cost of ownership (TCO). Organizations can’t afford to overlook this important difference in challenging times when all costs are under scrutiny and funds for new equipment are oftentimes limited. Despite their lower purchase price, smart phones and PDAs cost much more to own and operate than ruggedized mobile computers in service, delivery, retail, warehouse and manufacturing environments, according to independent research that studied mobile computer life cycles in these environments. In fact, the average annual TCO for consumer-oriented PDAs and smart phones used for business is 42.6 percent higher than that for enterprise-grade ruggedized handheld computers, as Figure 1 shows. Understanding TCO differences is essential to choosing the device that will provide the most value for mobile computing deployments.

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