Barcode Software Maker Zebra Buys Motorola Scanner Division

Zebra Technologies plans to buy one of the few remaining divisions of Motorola, expanding its ownership into the enterprise asset tracking market.

One of the few remaining pieces of what used to be Motorola was sold April 15—the division that designs, builds and markets barcode scanners for asset tracking, among other uses.

Asset-tracking software provider Zebra Technologies on April 15 announced the acquisition of that business from Motorola Solutions for $3.45 billion.

Zebra will fund the deal through a combination of cash on hand and new debt. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, Phil Gerskovich, Zebra senior vice president of New Growth Platforms, told eWEEK.

Motorola has been carved up since it announced on Jan. 4, 2011, that it was breaking into separate corporate entities in order to optimize the sales of its then-substantial intellectual and physical properties.

Google had bought the assets of Motorola Mobility—the home entertainment and mobile phone businesses —two years ago for $12.5 billion. After it realized it had made a major blunder, it then sold off a part of the division, Motorola Home, for $2.35 billion to Redwood City, Calif.-based cable equipment maker Arris in December 2012.

In January 2014, Google finally unloaded the handset business to China's Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

With the purchase of the Motorola scanner business, Zebra is honing in on virtually owning the enterprise asset tracking market, which puts itself into a strong position as the Internet of things begins to take shape. Zebra has had the software for a long time. Now, it also owns the hardware scanners and other equipment that use the software.

Zebra Technologies, founded in 1991, has been recognized as an industry leader in barcode and enterprise printing, asset tracking, Internet of things (IoT) solutions, and motion and location sensing. Its products include direct thermal and thermal transfer label printers, radio frequency identification printer/encoders, dye sublimation card printers, digital photo printers and related accessories and support software.

Its products are used for various applications in inventory control, small package delivery, baggage handling, automated warehousing, just-in-time manufacturing, employee time and attendance records, file management systems, hospital information systems, medical specimen labeling, shop floor control, in-store product labeling, employee ID cards, driver's licenses, and access control systems.

Motorola's Enterprise business is still an industry leader in mobile computing and advanced data capture communications technologies and services.

"The combination of Zebra's technology offerings and asset tracking solutions, together with Motorola's Enterprise business, will create an industry leader in enterprise asset intelligence for the Connected Age," Gerskovich told eWEEK.

Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Zebra sees its role as providing a "digital voice" for assets or people within an organization, so that sensors and affiliated applications can account for whatever is required in an IT system, CEO Anders Gustafsson told eWEEK in a interview.

"This ties back into the Internet of things," Gustafsson said. "We basically connect physical things to the Internet."

eWEEK plans to publish a deeper dive on Zebra and its IT soon in its Innovation section.

Motorola Solutions, all of what remains of the original Chicago-based Motorola, will continue to manufacture, design, integrate and deliver voice and data communication packages for government and public safety customers worldwide. It also holds a healthy portfolio of intellectual property.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...