Ruggedized tablets to grow faster than ruggedized PCs

DQI Bureau
New Update

Panasonic's toughbook brand has carved a niche in the ruggedized notebook space. In an interaction with Dataquest, Hide Harada, global director of IT products business unit, Panasonic, talks about the company's growing toughbook business and the key trends in the ruggedized PC and tablet space. Excerpts


How is the toughbook business doing in India and globally, and how are you positioned in this space?

We are in the ruggedized business space for more than 16 years and have more than 60% of the market share. This is despite the fact that we are not in the PC business. What differs us from the traditional PC manufacturers is our endeavor to offer rugged PCs. Our product is not off-the-shelf product and is based on customer requirements. We deliver customized devices packed with long battery life, wide-range wireless, and other unique features.

How easy or tough is to sell toughbooks?


This is one of the most important questions we keep on asking ourselves in order to generate business. At the end of the day, CIOs are bothered about TCO and RoI. Certainly, end consumers are not our audience, since they don't need our product. But if we go to a targeted segment where harsh working conditions exist like mining, manufacturing, oil and gas, logistics, transportation, military, and automobiles, etc, where engineers or executives have to be equipped with gadgets or devices ruggedized to handle shocks, dust or heat, we do not face difficulty in selling our products. Normal PCs or handhelds cannot survive in harsh conditions. Thus, the total cost of ownership is not a concern in such critical environments.

How big is the toughbook business for Panasonic?

If we are talking about worldwide PC market, our market share would be less than 1%. But if we consider the ruggedized PC market where we have more than 60% market share, we are very well placed. This is a segment where players had to exit market because of the losses. However, Panasonic has been able to sustain this business unit quite profitably. Our foremost priority is to increase and expand our customer network which will helps us achieve sustainable growth.


Is the ruggedized segment keeping your hopes alive for further growth in the absence of competition?

It is true that there are not many players in the ruggedized PC space. There are only a few of them such as Getac and Itronix, etc. But the other players are not able to keep pace with the times and had to exit from their businesses. This year, Itronix also announced that they will discontinue this business. However, Panasonic believes that the ruggedized PC and device is poised for a high growth in next six years. In my opinion, the ruggedized PC market is set to grow at steady pace of 6-7% whereas the ruggedized tablet space is set to grow as much faster than PCs.

The tablets are growing rapidly. At present, the sales are more on the side of ruggedized PCs but we are hopeful that tablets will surpass PCs in the ruggedized segment.