Symbol Aims to be Soup to Nuts Mobile Provider

Symbol Technologies is parlaying its $230 million acquisition of RFID specialist Matrics into a "soup-to-nuts" pitch to customers at the National Retail Federation show in New York. Meanwhile, the company announces a deal with customer 7-Eleve

NEW YORK—With last years acquisition of RFID card maker Matrics Inc. already under its belt, Symbol Technologies Inc. has turned into a "soup-to-nuts" mobile solutions provider, according to Allan Melling, the companys senior director for EPC Solutions.

Further, although Symbol is also the industrys leading maker of RFID reader hardware, its solutions stretch across all sorts of mobile and wireless architectures, Melling said, pointing to this weeks newly unveiled deal with 7-Eleven Inc. as an example.

These are the messages Symbol is now trying to convey to retailers—including the throngs attending this weeks National Retail Federation show here—as well as to users in Symbols other longtime vertical markets, such as government, health care, manufacturing, route accounting and warehouse mobility.

In a meeting at the NRF shows bustling Symbol booth, Melling told that Matrics has now been fully integrated into Symbols organization. Symbol completed the $230 million acquisition in September 2004.

"Externally, Matrics is not a separate division of Symbol, although we do [make references to it] internally as a division," he said. The internal designation is used mainly to facilitate work on projects, according to Melling.

Through its Matrics buyout, Symbol has become one of the top two providers of RFID cards, an item now in big demand as customers move forward in meeting RFID mandates. Alien Technology Corp. is also a major competitor in this space.

But not all of Symbols customers want or need RFID right now, according to Melling. This week, for instance, Symbol announced a deal with 7-Eleven for deployment of its Windows CE-based MC3000 handheld PC scanner in 5,300 convenience stores across the United States.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about 7-Elevens RFID strategy.

Long before RFID turned into a big industry buzzword, Symbol was a major maker of bar code scanners, for both batch uploads and use on wireless networks.

Brian Viscount, Symbols vice president for product marketing, Core Mobil Computing, said that the 7-Eleven agreement represents a current trend among many of Symbols customers to transition from DOS- to Windows-based scanning devices.

According to Viscount, the new MC3000 retains the same overall "ergonomics" as Symbols earlier handheld scanners, while replacing the old text screen with Microsofts GUI.

7-Eleven will use the device in conjunction with 802.11b wireless LAN networks for real-time connectivity to applications such as inventory management, Viscount said. The device is also available with 802.11g wireless capabilities.

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