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Motorola Adds to Connected Home

Motorola has purchased media networking software specialist Ucentric Systems today, a move that enhances the networker's connected home offerings and marks its first foray into the software business, a company spokesman said.

Ucentric provides access to stored digital content -- such as high-definition video on a digital video recorder, music on a hard drive, or pictures on a laptop -- from any connected device in the home.

The technology operates with electronic program guides from several vendors, and service providers can customize the interface with applications for subscribers.

"We've always been a hardware player, so this will be a change for us," Paul Alfieri, a Motorola spokesman, told internetnews.com.

The offering will be sold to third-party service providers as well as integrated into Motorola's set top box line.

The acquisition, terms of which were not disclosed, builds on a strategy articulated in June 2003, when Motorola formed a new business unit to sell wireless cable modem gateways, digital set-top boxes and other equipment to consumers.

Just weeks after that announcement, Ucentric joined the Motorola's developer program with the goal of making its software compatible with Motorola's high-definition TV and personal video recorder platform.

More broadly, the connected home initiative fits the company's vision of seamless mobility -- allowing consumers to access their information from PCs, digital entertainment systems, and ultimately through mobile phones and devices, Alfieri said.

Ucentric is privately held and venture-backed by Polaris Venture Partners. The 5-year-old company's technology has been used by cable operators including Comcast and Rodgers, as well as hardware manufacturers Samsung and chip maker Broadcom .

By becoming part of Motorola, the company will now have a ready-made international sales and support team, which could be crucial to bringing its technology to expanding markets such as China, Alfieri said. The firm's employees will stay on with Motorola.

Other IT giants are also looking to the living room for growth. Earlier this year, Intel launched a new investment fund worth $200 million to invest in companies developing hardware and software for consumer entertainment, such as sharing digital music, photos and video on a variety of devices.



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