White Paper

Why Does A Rugged Tablet Cost More Than An iPad? Part 1: Manufacturing Volume

Source: Glacier Computer

By Ron D’Ambrosio, CEO, Glacier Computer

Tablet PCs are becoming the must-have technology of this decade. Businesses are researching the viability of tablet usage for their field applications, replacing rugged clamshell laptops, bulky handhelds, and vehicle mount terminals. Every day we receive calls from companies who have questions about our line-up of rugged tablets. Inquiries are focused on specifications, features and pricing expectations based on consumer-grade tablets.

We repeatedly hear, ‘Our budget is sub $1000 per unit’. Why is the budget sub $1000 for a rugged version of a portable tablet? Taking the iPad price and doubling it to cover perceived ruggedization costs, is an incredible oversimplification and very unrealistic.

There are three main areas that drive up the cost of rugged portable tablets;

  • Manufacturing Volume
  • Engineering
  • Configurability


Manufacturing Volume: Identifying the potential consumer market is fairly straightforward with buying trends and adoption of technology well researched and understood. Consumers are well educated about features, price, and quality.

Brand awareness and loyalty are recognized and accepted. MSRP is set by the market leader who is always first to launch the latest technology. Technical reviews, editorials, and consumer feedback happen at light speed, sometimes before the latest tablet is even available. When building only one or two flavors of a tablet, and you know your market is millions of pieces, manufacturing costs are low and predictable. Building vanilla flavored tablets with all the same components, drives manufacturing costs down. The commercial space is very different.

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