Month: April 2014

Back to the Future?

Last week’s announcement that Zebra Technologies had agreed to purchase the Motorola Solutions Enterprise Business was greeted by nearly everyone in the industry as a positive. Under Motorola’s leadership, the former “Symbol Technologies” business of scanners and handhelds had grown increasingly stale. Most surprising to industry old timers like myself, was market share gain in retail point of sale scanning market made by Datalogic and Honeywell in the last few years. The fact of the matter, though, is that the competition was simply making better scanners.

The same was becoming true in the rugged mobile computer space. Too many of Motorola’s legacy products had become technologically inferior and aesthetically obsolete. Other than half-hearted refreshes of the existing line, new products were almost non-existent. It had become clear that Motorola did not either understand or embrace the traditional mobility business space.

So what will new ownership bring?

First of all, combining the two companies will be an immense challenge.  This is, after all, a $1,000,000,000.00 company with 2,600 employees attempting to swallow a $2,700,000,000.00 company with 4,600 employees. Secondly, there is a huge gap between selling bar code printers and supplies and becoming an “industry leader in enterprise asset intelligence for the Connected Age”.  The product mix of the new Zebra will be extensive and complicated. Finding the right mix of go to market partners will be crucial. Also of concern: nearly the full acquisition cost will be financed.

Where will the money come from for the greatly needed product refresh?

The return of the Symbol brand is widely anticipated in the industry. However, it will be interesting to see how what the culture of the new company will be. A return to the ‘glory days’ of bar coding and data collection is simply not going to cut it. Hopefully, the Zebra/Symbol of the future looks like something we have never seen.