A Connected Military

Study: Homeland security, military driving demand for "fully rugged" mobile computers

Natick, MA — April, 8 2003 — Despite the persistent slowdown in global IT spending, suppliers of rugged mobile computing and communications platforms have been doing brisk business with their industrial and commercial accounts, according to a study conducted by technology market research and consulting firm Venture Development Corp. (VDC).

VDC defines a "fully rugged" mobile computer as one that is designed for/tested to the United States Department of Defense (USDOD) Military Standard (MIL-STD) 810F Test Method Standards for Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests. In addition, these systems must also be rated IP54 or higher, according to industry-standard test procedures.

These products made up a $700 millions market in 2002, according to VDC. Shipments are expected to climb nearly 7 percent per year, and reach nearly $1 billion in 2007. Passage of Homeland Security Department funding and continuing overseas deployment of armed forces are driving even more demand.

In 2002, the share of worldwide "fully rugged" mobile computer consumption by form factor (percent of dollars) totaled $701 million. It was broken out as follows:
¥ Notebook: 50.80 percent
¥ Hand Held: 16.30 percent
¥ On-Board/Fixed Vehicle: 12.70 percent
¥ Lunchbox/Luggable: 10.20 percent
¥ Tablet: 6.40 percent
¥ Sub-Notebook: 3.20 percent
¥ PDA: 0.40 percent

According to Tim Shea, Program Manager at VDC, "We continue to see strong demand for fully rugged products in all markets segments. However, demand in many government and defense programs has been exceptional by any measure."

Shea said applications and installations of "fully rugged" mobile computers in Defense and Homeland Security are expected to cover a broad spectrum, including the following military programs:
¥ Maintenance Support Devices (MSD); and
¥ Mortar Fire Control (M/FCI)

In addition, Shea continues, the implementation of "fully rugged" mobile computers in Homeland Security and Defense could be "pervasive" and include installations at virtually every transportation facility and within every first responder department in the country.

Companies likely to be called on to provide these systems include: Panasonic, Itronix, Miltope, Northrop Grumman, DRS Technologies, LXE, and many others, according to VDC.