There’s an old adage that says “Always use the right tool for the job”. A butter knife might make a decent screwdriver in a pinch, but it wouldn’t be your first choice if you had to drive more than one screw. A Swiss Army knife is a great tool to have under certain circumstances, but I think a seamstress would prefer a better pair of scissors. When it comes down to it, a tool built for a specific purpose is the better choice.
Choosing the right tool for the job applies everywhere. In business, there is sometimes a temptation to deploy equipment or devices that maybe weren’t designed for the intended purpose, but other compelling factors trigger the impulse to buy.
Consumer devices such as smart phones and tablets are attractive at the outset because of their relative low cost and ease of acceptance by their users because of existing familiarity. However, selecting such devices based on short-sighted logic will result in higher costs over the long term.
Built-For-Purpose devices, as opposed to smart phones and tablets, are designed with commercial and industrial users in mind, and are generally kept in production for many years. They are more durable and take into consideration the ergonomics required by all-day use.
Manufacturers of consumer grade devices care only about the consumer market. Commercial applications represent only a small fraction of their sales so commercial customers won’t influence product road maps or design changes. Models of consumer grade devices aren’t designed with the built-for-purpose mindset and will change frequently, and often times those changes will have an economic impact on the commercial user. Connectors can change, making existing accessories obsolete. Housings get thicker or thinner and now sleds or holsters won’t work. Changes in the operating system might require changes in user software. Product models will be discontinued frequently and with little or no notice.
Commercial and industrial users of consumer grade devices will constantly be reacting to swift and frequent changes in consumer grade devices, and the overall durability simply can’t compare to built-for-purpose devices, which are intended for challenging environments and are kept in production for many years in order to meet the needs of commercial and industrial users.
Short sightedness might result in lower investment cost and easier deployments, but the upfront savings will be spent many times over in the years to follow while trying to keep those consumer grade devices in service.