**Editor's Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q1 2014.**
Since Cisco and others have been talking about the trillions of dollars that could be made from selling solutions developed around the Internet of Things (IoT), many industry watches have wondered who will be the burgeoning market’s first break-out star. Thanks to its aggressive moves of late, the answer could be Zebra Technologies Corp.
On Tuesday, the Lincolnshire, Ill., company announced plans to buy almost all of the Enterprise business of Motorola Solutions, including the bulk of its assets, 4,500 employees and ecosystems, for $3.45 billion. The acquisition follows additional IoT-related announcements made by Zebra recently, including plans to collaborate with Trimble and Kit Check on new IoT solutions, and a plan to build out its Zatar IoT platform.
The Enterprise unit of Motorola Solutions, which develops mobile computing and advanced data-capture communications technologies and services, will complement Zebra’s barcoding, enterprise printing and other businesses, said Michael Terzich, senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Zebra. Last year, Zebra and the Motorola Solutions Enterprise group generated approximately $1 billion and $2.5 billion in sales, respectively. But that’s just a fraction of what the two could achieve working together in the rapidly growing IoT market in which sensors and smart networks generate real-time data streams about the location and status of Internet-aware things and mobile workforces.
In an interview with Channel Partners, Terzich said the acquisition provides Zebra a unique opportunity to move up the solution stack and get a lot closer to software-enabled solutions that take advantage of the IoT and other trends including "big data."
“We’re obviously very excited about the announcement," he said. “Clearly both Zebra and the enterprise business of Motorola’s mobile solutions is a well-paired match."
Terzich noted that the two companies have a long history working together and very little in the way of product overlap. Zebra’s legacy in barcoding, printing, RFID tracking and more have made it a leader in manufacturing, warehousing and, increasingly, health care, while Motorola’s technologies have made it a leader in retail, transportation and lodging.
Together, the combined portfolio should make Zebra a major force in the Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) market, as well as in enterprise asset identification and tracking and related intelligent solutions.
From a partner standpoint, the companies share many resellers and integrators. In fact, they are “the brands of choice" for many in the channel, says Terzich, because of their focus, consistency and discipline when it comes to working with partners. With some additional coordination after the acquisition, Zebra is poised to make its biggest impact in the channel ever, he added.
“There is a lot of pressure on business to improve competitiveness and efficiency. When you think about what both companies do, we streamline the identification of people, assets and transactions by bringing technological enhancements to business," said Terzich.
After divesting most of the Enterprise business, Motorola Solutions will continue to manufacture, design, integrate and deliver voice and data communication solutions for government and public safety customers worldwide. As part of the arrangement with Zebra, the company will retain the iDEN product portfolio that was part of the enterprise business unit.