Motorola buys Symbol: Is this the biggest thing so far?

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The merger agreement between Motorola and Symbol is major news and it will send waves throughout the AIDC marketyes, it's a trite statement but stories like this always bring out the obvious opening comment from observers!

At a corporate level, there has been nothing as big as this so farnothing that would bring more public attention to our relatively small but highly important sector of the IT industry.

Could a move like this have been predictedyes, because, in the IT world in particular, such mergers and acquisitions are inevitable.

Looking at this from various directions there is a simple logic to it:

- Symbol has been changing its profile from traditional AIDC to enterprise mobilityarguably the same thing plus rugged mobile, wireless computing but with a much more mainstream IT sound to it than the select world of bar code and RFID data capture

-Changes in management over recent years have driven the company forward at an accelerated paceno one would argue (maybe they will) that the charismatic Bill Nuti did much to bring attention to the Symbol brand and the company's products

-The executive changes following Nuti's departure would have brought about improved financial management

-Symbol has worked hard to win the position of the most recognised AIDC branding in the public eyeyes, there are other brands that could claim broad recognition such as Psion Teklogix, but that is a legacy of its pocket computer/personal organiser history in the consumer electronics market

-Symbol's technological inventiveness is renowned and is seen as a leading light, if not the leader in this market

-The company has a long, rich history with some of the oldest established channels in the market (Intermec can claim a similar background also). It's expertise in providing vertical market solutions is built on this.

The above observations admittedly are no more than my simplified opinions; and, I'd recommend that readers of this story also download and read the attached article from leading industry analysts Ventured Development Corp.

So what it does it mean for Symbol's future?

We spoke to Jan Burton (pictured left), EMEA VP and general manager to find out more. Burton reminded me that there are several levels of approval yet to be metshare holders and US government and so the Symbol Technologies brand and name is not going to disappear overnight and it will be the end of 2006 and 2007 before the agreement is finalised. So, it's too early to say what will happen to the Symbol namehowever, we all can have some fun playing about with this over the coming months.

Burton highlights that: Symbol will be the core of the Motorola mobile computing business, providing enterprise solutions and domain expertise. So, this reinforces the fact that Motorola is getting a treasure chest of a business in this transaction.

Symbol will benefit from the strong Motorola brand and the market standing of a $38 billion company, said Burton. She explained that the Motorola brand will no doubt take Symbol's products and business expertise into areas it has yet to tap. Symbol's wireless technologies have a reputation of excellence and now with additional, massive strength in networking from Motorola great opportunities will open up for Symbol's channel.

Talking about channel, both Symbol and Motorola have well-respected channel programmes and the combined force will provide even more for partners, no doubt we'll hear more about this in due course.

Vertical market expertise has already been mentioned and one wonders whether or not things will change, but Burton says that this can only get better, particularly with Symbol bringing its strength in retail to the table and Motorola's reach into government and finance markets. So, there is a promise of greater opportunities for the channel.

Burton emphasised that she is excited about the way Motorola has approached this development and how it is committed to enterprise mobility.

So, for now we must wait and see what the final outcome will be. However, it is likely that existing Symbol partners will be grinning broadly about what this will bring them in the way of access to new customer opportunities and those systems integrators and resellers working with Motorola will see the possibilities of adding enterprise-wide computing to what they already do.

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