Dinosaurs mate in embedded gulag

Symbol and Telxon vow to bore the world... together

Symbol and Telxon are finally to join forces in a stock-for-stock deal. The two brands are beloved by traffic wardens, ticket inspectors, fork-lift truck drivers and check-out staff the world over, providing the majority of industrial embedded handheld devices in use today.

The deal is worth $465m based on Symbol's current share price. Although the press release sprinkles the magic word "wireless" liberally, it can barely disguise that this dog end of the industry has traditionally been the place where old chips go to die.

But that's not to say it's unprofitable: as Psion has proved by maintaining a steady earner from strapping up old Organisers and other 16bit kit in rubber cases.

And occasionally the more glamorous end of the industry has made a play for the embedded graveyard. In recent years both Symbol and Texlon have been wooed by Sun Microsystems and Microsoft to place Java and Windows CE in these devices, usually accompanied by some purple prose of creating a seamless end-to-end enterprise information system.

That laudable idea has traditionally come a cropper when IS managers realised they'd then have to replace the 286s back at the depot which these devices plug into with some new-fangled wireless infrastructure. And, with such devices regarded as an operational overhead rather than a big-budget strategic spend, such grand plans were rapidly given the bum's rush.

The pair have been talking about a merger for over two years, and Symbol originally offered over $900m for its rival. ®

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