I came on board to InHand Electronics just over a week ago and have spent a lot of my time familiarizing myself with the products and services we offer. Maybe it’s because the Super Bowl is this weekend or football is just always on my mind, but as I learned about InHand’s custom products I immediately thought of a story I read about the NFL. For years the NFL printed out pictures on the sidelines so players and coaches could review them and make game time adjustments. Over the past two seasons, someone realized we are in the 21st century and decided to introduce tablets to this process.
Microsoft paid the NFL $400 million to be the provider of these sideline tablets with the hope of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties. Microsoft gets exposure to the millions of fans who watch football every Sunday and the NFL has a more advanced way of making in game adjustments, plus an additional $400 million their pocket. However, since Microsoft’s tablets hit NFL sidelines there has been a wave of bad press about them. Most notably, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick went on a rant about the tablets during a post game press conference which included him saying “I’m done with tablets. They’re just too undependable for me.” While Microsoft has publicly defended their tablets and NFL higher ups have done the same, I imagine there have been some tense phone conversations between the two about this. As a league that prides itself on being the best, having a high profile coach rant about bad tablets is not a good look for the NFL.
What could the NFL have done differently to ensure the tablets met their needs? This brings me back to the products and services we offer here at InHand Electronics. We specialize in custom electronics that are specifically designed to meet our customer’s requirements. Microsoft took an existing product they wanted to get exposure to and assumed it could meet the NFL’s needs. We start with a known good product and modify it to meet the specific requirements our customers demand. Our Modified-COTS (Modified Consumer off the shelf) approach reduces risk and time to market for our customers. InHand’s Hydra tablet would have been modified to meet the requirements outlined by the NFL and its coaches, including perhaps creating an NFL branded tablet for them to sell.
One of the obvious customization needs the NFL has for its tablets is the ability to withstand the wrath of coaches and players that includes tablets being thrown or even smashed against their heads. Sports reporter Sean Jensen tweeted last January about hearing tablets being crushed on the sidelines. InHand currently sells custom boards and devices that are used in military, industrial and medical applications. As you can imagine, this means our products are being used in some very intense situations. To make sure these situations don’t get the better of our products, one of our featured customization options is our design for rugged environments (read about all our custom designs on our website). InHand is rigorous in our specifications and testing to make sure our products do not fail our customers in sometimes critical situations. While football is not life or death (despite what some fans think), if our products are holding up on battle fields and in emergency rooms I am confident they could handle an NFL sideline.
$400 million goes a long way to make you look the other way when your tablets just aren’t meeting your needs. However, if the NFL wanted to provide their coaches with a product that meets all their requirements, they would find an InHand custom solution could be a better answer. As you examine your electronic needs, check out our website and contact us about what we could do for you. Don’t settle like the NFL and find yourself thinking “We should have gone with InHand!”