Motorola Bellies Up to the Bar Code

Its deal to buy Symbol Technologies may help the cell-phone giant forge a unique model marrying cellular with product scanning and tracking

Motorola Chief Executive Ed Zander took a significant step toward making the cell-phone giant into the versatile communications giant he has always desired. Zander announced Tuesday an agreement to buy Symbol Technologies (SBL), a maker of bar code and inventory scanning technology, for about $3.9 billion. The acquisition enables Motorola (MOT) to boost sales of wireless handheld devices to corporate customers such as FedEx (FDX), big-box retailers, airlines, and hospitals. What's more, as companies expand their use of radio-frequency tracking chips, Motorola stands to benefit by merging that technology with one it already knows intimately: cellular phone networks.

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