The DroidDevCast

Best Practices for Purpose Built Devices

Episode Summary

The DroidDevCast is a weekly podcast brought to you by the team at Esper, where we explore all things Android, mobile DevOps, and open source software development. On this episode, Esper Content Marketing Manager and podcast host Rin Oliver is joined by Esper COO and Co-Founder Shiv Sundar to discuss best practices business owners and decision makers need to consider when shopping for purpose built Android devices.

Episode Notes

The DroidDevCast is a weekly podcast brought to you by the team at Esper, where we explore all things Android, mobile #DevOps, and open source software development. On this episode, Esper Content Marketing Manager and podcast host Rin Oliver is joined by Esper COO and Co-Founder Shiv Sundar to discuss best practices business owners and decision makers need to consider when shopping for purpose built #Android devices. 

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Episode Transcription

Rin Oliver (00:10):

Welcome to the Droid DevCast, a podcast brought to you by the team at Esper. Bringing you the latest news, all full discussion and insights into all things Android, Android DevOps, and open source software development. I'm your host Rin Oliver, Content Marketing Manager here at Esper and today I'm joined by Esper COO and co-founder Shiv Sundar. And we're here this week to learn more about best practices for purpose-built Android devices. To wrap up the show we'll dive into what makes a good reason to use a purpose-built device and what a bad reason is to consider purpose-built devices and what that might look like. So with that said, let's get started. So Shiv, retail devices like phones and tablets are used in hospitals, retail, and restaurants for single-use cases. What are your thoughts on that?


Shiv Sundar (00:52):

When Android came out, the majority of the use case were consumer use cases, phones, and tablets. Yeah, all this personalized applications and consumer applications enterprises realized that they were going to deploy devices. And the easiest thing to do is go buy off-the-shelf devices from Amazon or from any other OEM and then deploy them, right. I mean, the easiest combination to do is buy medium devices, use some sort of an MDM and lock it down and put your enterprise obligations and trend and center. In some cases, kiosk would have launched them. It does work. It's not saying that it's not effective. It does work. It's faster, it's quicker, but when it... But there are a lot of loopholes around that people can exit out of other kiosk mode. They can sometimes bypass the security settings and policies and install other applications.


Shiv Sundar (01:42):

And in some cases the phone form factor or the tablet phone factor are not the most optimum, right? You need something that is rugged for maybe in transportation or use cases. You need some ports that are required. In some cases you need hardware, internet, and then those are not available on retail devices. So there are some shortcomings, it's a good start but I think as you scale your business and if you have more need and you really know what your use case, sorry, it's better to do something that has purpose rather than go to the dealer.


Rin Oliver (02:09):

And so recently we're starting to see a lot of small to medium-sized businesses, startups, and larger enterprises source devices from places like China, what are key things that companies need to follow when sourcing devices from China or from other areas of the world that may have, for example, a lower price tag, and might not necessarily have a high quality threshold?


Shiv Sundar (02:30):

You know, price points like you go to Alibaba or you go to like you ping a few vendors. You get that slew, the hardware choices, the price point looks super attractive. The first thing everybody does is they calculate, we can get the price fixed for a 50 dollars to buy the device and then important ship and provision the device. It's mostly the major factor in buying devices from our sourcing devices from China. We work with a lot of hardware vendors both people who source devices, people who buy OEM devices, there needs to be a little bit more consideration into it, right? I mean, what chips are you using? Are you using like the MediaTek or the Qualcomm chips that are using the little lower end chips? What is the Android version of the device? Right?


Shiv Sundar (03:13):

I mean, what does the OSTP version, what does the support looks like for this? And let's say you go deploy 10,000 of these devices and your manufacturers go bust. How are you going to support those devices? Right? I mean, that's, that's one patient to think about. The key thing is in the ecosystem, the person you're buying the device is most likely not the person who made the device. So that there's a person who makes the PCB or the printed circuit board. There's a personal who assembles the display. And then the labeling goes in. Somebody who makes a software it's called independent software vendors, multiple people in the ecosystem. And you essentially are buying it from somebody who's selling it. Right? So you don't know who the source of the hardware is. So it's very critical to understand who the device team from, it's good to make a factory visit, to figure out who the manufacturer of the PCB is.


Shiv Sundar (03:55):

And then compare across multiple things. In some cases, it's good to at least have some kind of concept and on ground to figure out where this hardware is being built and sourced. The other thing to look out for us, like half this hardware artists' combination of hardware and software. How many device have been shipped? What does the reliability like, things like that on the software side. We really recommend that. You don't know what's under the hood in the Android, right? I mean, what kind of spyware and kind of bloatware that's going to be there. And in deploying an Android in enterprise scenarios, it's very important that you get full control of the source as a part of the purchase agreement. You negotiated that, Hey, I want the entire source. I'm going to build my entire Android operating system. I'm going to sign it.


Shiv Sundar (04:38):

I'm going to maintain it. So taking control of software is super critical when sourcing hardware from China, that quickly when you ask for software source, our software binary you quickly know that the person selling you the hardware doesn't own the hardware or own the software. So you can quickly discover those issues. So I think people should take a much more scientific approach to purchasing devices, especially for enterprise use case from China. It's not about just saving those dollars because whatever money you see on hardware costs might go down when you have to support them. And you have like angry customers and you have like device and hardware costs


Rin Oliver (05:12):

Is building custom hardware the right choice for vertical use cases?


Shiv Sundar (05:16):

Good part right now is that there are a lot of enterprise focused OEMs or OEMs are making kiosk volumes or making like POS devices or OEMs are making rather than handles. So what used to be only custom hardware now is available under various form factors or videos like POS Clover and square built their custom hardware. There was no Android POS devices existed. So the hacker builder did industrial design works through it, but now a lot of mainstream OEMs have come and like a lot of brands have viewers devices available even very phone and engineer or the credit card companies. They have like Android POS versions that are very reliable. In many cases, if you could actually go and you can find a reliable brand or an OEM that actually ships your hardware, custom development should be restricted to some really unique use cases.


Shiv Sundar (06:09):

Let's say you're building an exercise machine or a treadmill or willingness like a new unique security camera. And it's very unique play. Then you need to go look at the custom hardware route. I mean, because you cannot design the chip set. And in some cases you can actually design the entire hardware. You can buy what we call a sum, our system on modules that are complete PCBs, and you can just do the industrial design around it. So you get a much more reliable PCB underneath, but you can build the ID that has the unique presale your value proposition. So a Espert has some good partnership with media tech, where people are looking to make custom devices. We have what you call as a red carpet, but you come into media tech and tell what use cases. They will give you the reference design and they will actually help you find the manufacturer and that the design house it's completely a red carpet process. There is no cost involved. It's just part of the media tech. I would say AI OT effort to bring like more connected devices to home and to enterprises.


Rin Oliver (07:11):

Now, with this knowledge in mind, what are some good reasons to purpose-build a device?


Shiv Sundar (07:16):

It's a question of like, when you're actually going to consumers, you want to take control of your own hardware. I mean, hardware is your brand eventually, and everybody's going to experience it. So they want the user experience, the look and feel the design, the touch, they want to control it because at the end of the day, hardware is a part of the buying and you want to be in control of it. And if something goes wrong in terms of software or hardware, you can quickly recover from it. That's the reason people build custom built hardware. You do need, I would say like when you're building custom hardware, actually you need to have some size of in-house hardware and embedded system team who can actually do the designs, do the verification. I mean you need to have some engineering staff in house to make that successful, just relying on third party companies.


Shiv Sundar (08:09):

Even if you have a system integrator who reliable enough, that should be good enough. We do have our partners or system integrators who can help technology companies, but some sort of knowledge and talent around building the current custom hardware and software for and from there forward as required to be successful. In my opinion, if done right? And your volumes are 50,000 or 100,000 devices, you eventually... The cost doesn't matter. You actually come out on the other side with a great product, a great price point, a great customer experience.


Rin Oliver (08:39):

And I'm going to go off script a little bit here for the smaller companies that are working with new things, such as having the ability to have a point of sale in your phone and the square card readers etc. What do you see as being a focal point that small businesses should focus on in today's day and age for building a small business with, for example, a mobile device such as their phone?


Shiv Sundar (09:05):

I think the choices is amazing, right? I mean you can just go from an square reader on an iPhone to, you can go to like a handheld device from a very phone, or you can get like a toast, other great example as a right.


Rin Oliver (09:20):

Yeah. PayPal sent me a PayPal here, or PayPal Go system. I forget what they call it. It's for my Android. They sent it right to me. They were like, here's your card reader, enjoy. I'm like, Oh, cool. That's fun. And now if I want to, I can take my card reader to the farmer's market or wherever, and just start making sales and it's hooked right up to our e-commerce backend. It's great. I can just take sales on my phone.


Shiv Sundar (09:41):

Yeah. I think there was a lot of good options and usually like when union banking with Wells Fargo or bank of America, they're tied up to some POS vendor that they would actually give it to you for free. So options are great. I think it's very easy for you to just get an iPhone and put a square, but I would recommend that they just pound it again, beaming device, however, small business you are. It goes a long way. Even if you're going that far, I recommend just buying a dedicated iPhone already to get an Android phone that just meant for payment processing and things of that. I think that POS efficiencies, I mean there's enough set about it. Getting the IPO system can make a big difference in your margins and revenues to stick how fast it processes, how the experiences, how soon can you make orders happening.


Rin Oliver (10:28):

Absolutely. I think that's really changing e-commerce in general too, is the addition of what you can do with any Android phone and in terms of creating that point of sale experience. And I think that's really been helpful, especially in our current situation, is that people are able to do more with less in times of uncertainty. They don't have to be in person. They can still make sales and they can still run a business entirely online.


Shiv Sundar (10:47):

You and Stripe realized it. And the Stripers launched a terminal product. And they're going to have a lot of hardware that are integrated with Stripes. If you want to get a little bit more technical, you can actually have in store or, small business already physical hardware and your home. If you're running an online commerce that is coming to a Stripe, so you can complete processing of things, even like Shopify, for example, they have some supported hardware that are, that can go along with it with... Right now I think there is technology for small businesses around e-commerce or payments and hardware that's big. Anybody should be able to start a small business and set up and get going very quick.


Rin Oliver (11:27):

Great. And lastly, what are the most important considerations for working with single-purpose devices that companies should keep in order to succeed at their own business goals?


Shiv Sundar (11:37):

I think it's really critical to look at holistically, right? It's this your application that's sitting on it. You have the hardware that is single purpose devices, interaction points. What environment, what benefit is it? The printers, your card reader, and then how is your business going to evolve, right? Or what are the things that are use case is going to involve? Is it going to be, who's going to use it as the customer want to use it? For example, if your team isn't easily, if you go to a restaurant, is it a kiosk for ordering or is it POS for taking orders? Is it like a device that's left at the diner for him to make orders? So I think anything to what the used cases are and make sure you pick the right combination of hardware, make sure your software is built for that.


Shiv Sundar (12:21):

Android is like, even though it's flexible, it has a lot of variation. So it's very critical that you actually have a hardware that is meant are built for your application. You build your application that is customized for your hardware experience and tested even before you launch it. So it's like if your phone is seminary, dabbler does 10 ends. You need to make sure that software development is built focused on those hardware devices. Make sure that it's into containerization during the development process. Oftentimes what happens is that you build for a phone or tablet and then it's deployed in a completely different device and on feel, you see all those issues that you never saw. If you're building a kiosk application, make sure you know, what the kiosk looks like and make sure it's built and tested for that scenario.


Rin Oliver (13:09):

Did you have anything else that you would like to impart on our listeners in terms of their knowledge for a single purpose, purposeful device for their own use?


Shiv Sundar (13:16):

No. I think if you're in business and you feel at hardware need, I mean, yes, iPhone and iPads can get you started, but I think as you scale, it can offer a lot of flexibility and significant price points, various choices. I mean, Esper is here to help even though hardware is not our business. We provide a cloud-based platform for managing applications and software on these devices. We believe that the hardware is super critical for you to succeed. And we are here to help businesses from small businesses to customers deploying thousands and thousands of devices or some in some cases, a 100,000 devices, hardware child is very critical. And I think it should go beyond the cost of hardware when evaluating hardware, is it the right piece of hardware is a good experience. What is going to be a support?


Shiv Sundar (14:00):

What going to be the lifecycle pose? Well, how hard is it going to be to manage these devices? How can you configure and ship those devices? We have the special devices, called Esper Enhanced Android. Where we work with manufacturers or drops from devices. You can custom purpose-built devices and can ship directly into a hotel or a restaurant, our healthcare facility. And it would just configure on board with Esper. So the significant operation beneficial efficiencies that you can achieve when you make the right hardware choices and during deployment, and often during customer support and field support.


Rin Oliver (14:37):

Well, Shiv, thank you so much for joining me. It's been great. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day and thank you to our listeners so much for joining us on this episode of the DroidDevCast. We'll be back next week with another exciting show for you. Please remember to like subscribe and share this episode on media. You can follow us on Twitter at @esperdev and subscribe to our YouTube channel. To keep up with all the latest happenings here at Esper, we can listen to the DroidDevCast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, simple cask, wherever you get your podcasts from. Thank you again for listening and we hope you have a wonderful day.