Motorola Amplifies Channel With Symbol Acquisition

acquire Symbol Technologies

By combining Symbol's 12,000 indirect-sales partners and Motorola's 9,000 channel partners, Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola will possess "a stronger, more dynamic channel strategy," Brown said.

With the deal, expected to close late this year or in early 2007, Motorola gains access to Symbol's arsenal of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which is rapidly replacing traditional bar codes in many supply chains, as well as to Symbol's handheld computers, which the Holtsville, N.Y.-based company has used to lead the enterprise wireless market.

"That's one of the reasons we're excited about it," Brown said, adding that the acquisition also gives Motorola more feet on the street.

"The majority of the revenue coming to Symbol is through their indirect channel. We in Motorola have a robust and muscular indirect channel in the private radio business," Brown said. "We think this substantially expands the [channel] footprint and allows for a high-touch direct sales force and a high-touch channel management group to direct and coordinate those indirect channels."

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Motorola's strengths lie in the government, utility and transportation industries, and the company's reach now will extend into vertical markets such as retail, wholesale, travel, transportation, health care and manufacturing with the addition of Symbol, he noted.

"I'll tell you, plain and simple, one of the reasons we are very attracted [to Symbol] is the distribution channel reach, and the width and breadth this combination affords us I think is unlimited," Brown said.

Tom Robinson, executive vice president of sales at Odyssey Software, a Rochester, N.Y.-based Symbol partner and ISV, said the Motorola-Symbol deal should lift partner sales. Growth in the wireless technology market has propelled a 20 percent increase in Odyssey's revenue over the last year, and a combined Motorola-Symbol should spur that growth even more, he said.

Odyssey got wind from Symbol that something was afoot, Robinson added. "We did have a call with our ISV representative, who yesterday gave us a heads up that something was going on," he said. "But at this juncture, we are just going to stand by and see how everything plays out."

Acquiring Symbol gives an immediate shot in the arm to Motorola's enterprise mobility strategy, which Motorola Chairman and CEO Ed Zander said is key to the company's future. "What better way to make our enterprise mobility play?" he said. "The Internet is about to go airborne, and it will go airborne big time."

Motorola has been gearing up to capitalize on the rise of wireless and mobility technology as a driver of future commerce, according to Zander. "Early this year, we formed a Network and Enterprise Division, which merged two organizations," he said. "We were missing the big 'e' in the [enterprise], and today we fill 'e' with Symbol. This is a company we've been looking at for some time."

Zander also pointed to the emergence of an unwired workforce, a trend that he doesn't want Motorola to miss.

"I think the enterprise goes mobile," he said. "We've watched workforces go mobile. I think with the tools and technologies that Symbol has, and some of the things we do, we can accelerate that. This is going to be big over the next several years."