If you’ve spent any amount of time in one of Target’s 1,800 US stores, it’s likely you’ve seen an employee using a dressed-up iPod Touch to look up stock info. it’s been that way since 2014, but the retailer is now switching to Android for all its essential sales floor activities. These aren’t any devices you’ve ever seen, though. Target is using an enterprise-oriented Zebra TC51.
Target’s old Apple handhelds (known as a MyDevice) were just iPod Touches inside a red plastic shell (see below). Employees have complained publicly on Reddit and other forums about issues with the iPods including poor connectivity, random reboots, and mediocre battery life. One of the reasons for going with an Android device is the option of having replaceable batteries, which is supported by the Zebra TC51.
— Kristine Moser (@kgover27) August 12, 2014
Most stores have around 30 MyDevices, so that could mean around 54,000 new Android devices in operation in the coming months. Apple hasn’t exactly focused on its iPod Touch hardware lately, so it’s no surprise companies like Target are looking elsewhere.
The TC51 is billed as a “mobile computer” as it doesn’t have a cellular radio. It’s a big water-resistant device with a thickness of 18.6mm and a mass of 249g. The removable battery is 4,300mAh, which is huge in comparison to the 5-inch 720p display. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 650 and 2GB of RAM. The TC51 also includes a built-in barcode scanner. It runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and probably won’t see a lot of security updates, so hopefully the browser is disabled. If you want to pick a TC51 up for yourself, it would cost around $1,500. But you probably don’t want to do that.
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