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Motorola announced today that it will acquire Symbol Technologies for $3.9 billion (press release). Recent accounting irregularities, and the resulting SEC fines have sent Symbol reeling for the past couple years. There have been recent rumors that Symbol was up for sale.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates in Northboro, Mass., said
he was concerned with Motorola's purchase of Symbol since “Motorola
does not have the best track record when it comes to acquiring
companies and integrating them into the organization.” He questioned
whether the purchase would amount to a good long-term move by Motorola,
but said CEO Ed Zander “has brought some new drive and discipline to
Motorola lately, so maybe this acquisition would be different.”

When rumors of such a deal first circulated, Gold thought
Motorola might need to pay up to $8 billion for Symbol, which is strong
in the customized, ruggedized device market. The key thing Motorola
gets in the deal, he added, is Symbol's “major position” in the RFID
space and its large portfolio of industrial-quality wireless LAN access
points, switches and management technology. Symbol also has a
“commanding lead” in sales of such gear to the retail market, and a
growing presence in health care, Gold said.

How this will impacts Symbol's health care business, especially OEMs who buy their embedded radios, will be interesting to see. Motorola has had some interest in health care in the past, for example some technology and startup investments, licensing the Besson patent to GMP (see the bottom of this post), and Motorola is a member of the Continua Health Alliance.