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Symbol deal gives Intel IP bridgehead in wireless LANs

If you mention barcodes they won't read the story - Ed.

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At first glance Intel's $100 million investment in Symbol Technologies yesterday looks like one of those impenetrably dull moves Intel's networking people make every now and again, and that sane people try not to notice. Symbol's a barcode outfit, right? Well yes, but it's been up to a lot of other stuff recently too, and while some of it's still pretty barcode-related, it could result in some intriguing products from the Intel deal. The two present their alliance in eminently snoozeworthy terms. They're going to develop "wireless high-speed local area networking (LAN) technologies. The technology will help allow mobile, handheld and desktop computers to communicate with both corporate networks and the Internet without requiring a direct wire connection." They'll develop silicon, adapter cards and wireless access points, using 802.11 wireless networking and operating at 2.4 and 5.2 GHz, and Intel intends to use the deal to accelerate its development of high-speed, low-cost wireless LAN chipsets for incorporation in other products. Now it got a little bit interesting there, didn't it? Symbol knows quite a bit about this area, and the two companies will each be getting equal rights in perpetuity to IP generated by the alliance. Intel also gets the option to buy "under certain circumstances," which aren't specified, an unspecified portion of Symbol's wireless division. Intel is quite clearly tooling up to mount its Chipzilla act in the wireless LAN arena, and we're looking forward to asking why this doesn't conflict with its Bluetooth efforts. Symbol meanwhile has some cute stuff on the go. There are wireless portable barcode scanners that shoppers can use to compile their shopping lists (we're not sure if we like this one, considering it means you have to actually go to the shop every now and again, rather than just use the Web), and in addition to the ruggedised industrial barcode scanning devices, we have a rather neat looking CE palm-sized PC device with, sorry, built in barcode scanner. ®

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