New phones for contractors will increase mobile product research

Construtech reported on a new breed of cell phones that use native work tracking programs as a means to reduce jobsite paperwork and improve archivability.
According to Sonim [Sonim Technologies], its XP family of phones meets extreme-condition metrics called RPS (Rugged Performance Standards). The phone is completely waterproof at depths up to 6.5 feet and can withstand a 6.5-foot drop onto concrete. The device is also scratchproof with a Corning Gorilla Glass lens.
Beyond the impact on jobsite progress tracking, this type of "all-terrain phone" has implications for marketers.

One of the major limits on smartphone use is environmental. These phones are expensive pieces of equipment and many people are reluctant to endanger their smartphone needlessly by exposing it to excessive water, impact, chemicals, or other harsh conditions. (This, by the way, is why I love the OtterBox Defender cases; it saved my phone within the first week I owned it.)  A construction site is full of these hazards, which has greatly limited mobile data use on-site.

If contractors have access to tougher phones, it gives them more opportunity to access online resources from in the field. This could include everything from product research to installation videos to troubleshooting. It also reduces the communication gap with you, for good or ill.

This is not a new story, but it is an important expansion of mobile adoption's rate and scope. Focusing just on the architects that specify your products, and not the contractors that install them, is a major mistake. There is a strong likelihood, in fact, that good contractor-focused mobile tools will be more important in the long run, as the contractor is more likely to be literally in the middle of a situation when information is needed.

It also presents an amazing customer service opportunity. If you develop the right relationship with the contractors using your product, or have the right communication system set up, it becomes easier to troubleshoot on-the-job problems, literally walking them through it step-by-step, while they send video or pictures of each stage and you send the information resources they need to be successful. That type of support will make a lasting positive impression.