Counterpoint Conversations: Sonim’s Solution-oriented Approach Driving Rugged Handsets Ecosystem

Rugged smartphones are a niche, but an important category as they are built tough for extreme environments. They can resist water, dust, shock, and drops, making them ideal for construction workers, firefighters, and outdoor enthusiasts. But what goes into making these smartphones to ensure safety, reliability, and longevity? Varun Mishra, a Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research, met with Michael Coad, SVP of Sonim Technologies, at MWC 2024 to learn about the company’s approach to the rugged smartphone market and more.

The Interview

Key Takeaways from the Discussion:

Sonim focuses on a solution-oriented approach:

• Rugged smartphones
• Accessories
• Software (SonimWare)
• Assistance in deployment (SonimCare)

Tests for ruggedness and more:

• Devices certified for industry standards like IP68, MIL-STD-810H.
• Sonim’s Rugged Performance Standard (RPS) benchmark for:
o Endurance and durability.
o Battery life.
o Extra loud audio.
o Chemical resistance.

User feedback for product improvement:

• Sonim collects feedback from different industry customers to:
o Improve existing devices.
o Designing of future devices.

Ensuring cellular coverage at remote locations:

• Sonim supports carrier initiatives for enabling satellite connectivity but does not plan to offer a proprietary satellite receiver.
• Exploring off-network solutions using 5G technology and device-to-device connectivity like push-to-talk.

Analyst Takeaways:

• Rugged smartphones are used in mission-critical scenarios like law enforcement and firefighting. However, in the competitive smartphone segment, it is difficult to carve out a niche and sustain it.
• While some of the large players have exited the rugged device segment, Sonim Technologies has been producing impressive revenue growth in 2023.
• Sonim’s focus on providing industry solutions rather than just a device, and its consumer-centric approach has been a key differentiating factor for the company.
• The company not only provides rugged hardware devices tested on various self-developed quality standards but also a software platform, called SonimWare, to manage key functionalities such as multi-device management and cloud services.

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