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Rugged phones booming for when the going gets tough

Paul Lipscombe
July 4, 2018

Bullitt Group was delighted to let its new feature-packed CAT out of the bag 

Bullitt Group continues to eye up the booming rugged smartphone market as the industry provides “huge opportunities” for rugged handset manufacturers.

Speaking on stage at the Data Select Platinum Club event, Bullitt director for applications and market intelligence Tim Shepherd discussed Bullitt’s current portfolio with around 100 dealers.

Bullitt – whose partners include Caterpillar and Land Rover – specialises in catering for the rugged market and Shepherd pointed towards the resurgence in this segment as the market has seen growth of 25 per cent, according to CCS Insight.

CCS Insight figures estimated 30 million rugged devices were sold globally in 2017, with 36 million sales anticipated this year and an estimated 59 million by 2021.

Shepherd told attendees: “This is a segment of the market that has seen significant growth – around 25 per cent – at a time when the global smartphone market has plateaued as a trend.

“We see the rugged market as a huge opportunity and one that we’re very excited by as we continue to build products for this space.”

Shepherd cited rugged phones as being 40 per cent more “cost effective” and 18 per cent “more productive” as the key reasons for the increase in this market.

“Rugged devices are significantly more cost effective for businesses to deploy and can elongate the device cycle which is good for retention and up-selling.

Shepherd showcased the company’s latest flagship smartphone the CAT S61, which is supplied by the Caterpillar brand and set for release on July 5.

Addressing the audience, Shepherd claimed the S61 is the “toughest smartphone that we have ever shipped” and, like its predecessor the S60, it focuses heavily on thermal imaging which is relevant to the customer base it targets.

The S60 and S61 are the only smartphones in the world to integrate thermal imaging.

Shepherd added: “Our S60 product was a huge success for Bullitt and the major draw for people buying this device was the thermal imaging camera.

“With the S61, it has the capability to measure temperatures up to 400 degrees celsius, extending the range of use cases available and making it a valuable proposition.”

The S61 utilises two innovative features in the form of an indoor air quality sensor and a laser-assisted distance measure.

The air quality sensor enables users to see how well ventilated their working environment is and can send alerts with actions to overcome these.

According to Shepherd it will “improve health and wellness for customers”.

Customers will also be able to utilise the laser distance measurement which allows for easier planning when creating room plans and organising materials for jobs to done.

Commenting on this new feature, Shepherd added: “We’ve wanted to bring distance measuring into CAT phones for a long time as it is a relevant proposition for the type of customers we have.”


Bullitt is aided by its partner the Caterpillar group which, according to Forbes’ figure, is ranked as the 89th most valuable brand in the world.

Bullitt director of marketing and PR Lisa Meakin referred to the CAT brand being “instantly recognisable” worldwide and the importance this has for Bullitt.

Manufacturing CAT and Land Rover products has aided Bullitt and Meakin alluded to this saying: “From a business model point of view we licence these brands and the reason we do this is because they’re global brands.

“They’re instantly recognisable and everyone knows the CAT logo and what it stands for and instantly know it is a rugged product.”

In terms of customer base, Meakin referred to statistics from a Bullitt Group research study which revealed 95 per cent of customers are male with 27 per cent of whom work in construction, 12 per cent in agriculture and seven per cent in security and emergency.

“Essentially, they’re buying this device for their working environment, it’s not for leisure. They’re buying it because it helps them at work and is needed for the environment they work in.

“We spend a lot of time talking to our customers and finding out why they buy devices and what appeals to them and what doesn’t.”

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