The News: Samsung Electronics America (SEA) announced today it is working with Microsoft and Verizon to bring the new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro to the U.S. market. The launch of this new device is built to enable frontline workers to accelerate the adoption of mobile-first vertical solutions for enterprise and SMB customers. As mobility continues to drive business disruption in very positive ways, devices like the Galaxy XCover Pro will deliver new mobile-enabled business solutions for frontline workers, leveraging the hardware, software, and services strengths of the companies for their customers, all on Verizon’s reliable nationwide network. Read the full news release here.
Analyst Take: Typically more known for its displays at NRF, Samsung surprised this year with the launch of a new mobile device, which it calls the XCover Pro. The reason for NRF being used as a launch pad rather than typical shows like CES or MWC comes down to the specific utility of the phone; this device was designed for the front line worker, with retail serving as a great market ready example of where the XCover Pro will find a home.
If you track industries like retail, trucking, logistics/warehousing, you are probably familiar with the scanning devices that are often supplied by companies like Zebra Tech. Most often these devices are single function of only handle a few operations. At NRF, I noticed more prevalence of multi-function devices that do more than just scan, but none other than Samsung moved to a full software enabled platform residing on a traditional mobile device.
Quick Rundown on the Device
The device itself is a pretty straightforward looking Samsung mobile device with a few key caveats.
- Full Android OS
- Supports Knox for secure access and multi-tenancy for shared devices.
- It has a replaceable battery – this makes the device more ideal for commercial use (and I wouldn’t mind seeing this on more devices).
- Two programmable buttons that can be used for walkie-talkie like features have been included on the device.
- A slightly ruggedized form factor allows the device to be dropped from about 1.5 meters without consequence – somewhat, but not overly impressive – I expect a few custom cases to be developed to give these an even more robust form factor.
At ~$500.00 USD a multi-format device for the retail floor, warehouse and office within retail with a full Android OS
Samsung Leans on Microsoft Teams – Pushing Front Line Innovation
The utility of a device like this that can be a retail employees “Everything” device without peripherals is pretty compelling, but what really caught my attention was the partnership with Microsoft and “Teams.” Using the push to talk functionality, the XCover Pro becomes a Walkie Talkie a la the Nextel era, but the collaboration isn’t happening over SMS or Near-Field, but instead it is using Microsoft Teams.
I see this collaboration as groundbreaking for corporate data governance and compliance. Using teams, data is captured and filed and conversations are logged. Interactions between employees and customers are handled in a consistent collaboration environment and rogue chat apps, groups and texts can be circumvented. The addition of the push to talk feature and Teams integration isn’t by any means “Massive Innovation” but it is a subtle integration that has instant value for retail type work groups.
I also find the Knox capability, which is Samsung’s mobile device management platform as a high value feature. With retail having a unique workforce, often comprised of FT, PT and Seasonal employees, with higher than average turnover, being able to set devices up to be shared, but still giving each employee access to more apps is useful. Retailers can buy these devices on a one to a few basis for sharing, and security isn’t an issue. Employees can also have levels of authentication to allow an app like Facebook to be used if the employee is on a break. Couple this with Teams and you have quite a platform for the next wave of frontline devices for the above-mentioned target industries.
Verizon Set to Distribute the XCover Pro
Out of the chute, Samsung is going to have Verizon handle the distribution of the products into the market. While I believe the vast majority of the sales will be for commercial purposed, I can also see the device driving some retail volume as well. Verizon will also handle distribution of an unlocked version of the device so it can be utilized on other carrier networks.
An interesting NRF launch that deepens Samsung’s roots in retail but also serves as an indicator of things to come. I see the “custom device” for many front line applications shifting in the years to come and the future devices will look a lot more like the ones we have grown accustomed to.
Sales will ultimately tell the story of the success and market readiness, but my initial impression is that this device should do well and given a few success stories of the device + Microsoft Teams integration, I expect to see and hear about more of these types of devices in the next 12-18 months.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.