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RealTime IT News

Small Buy, Big Strategy

Advancing its "seamless mobility" strategy, mobile telecom giant Motorola is buying embedded computing specialist Force Computer from Solectron for an undisclosed sum.

A spokesman for Milpitas, Calif.-based Solectron was not immediately available for comment, but in a statement, the outsourced electronics manufacturer said the Force Computer sale is part of its "plan to sell assets that are not central to the company's future strategy."

Force Computer components are used in a wide range of applications, including networking gear, industrial machinery, medical imaging tools and radar systems. According to Motorola spokesman Jeff Madsen, the acquisition fits into the Schaumburg, Ill., company's overarching plan, which seeks to connect users to voice, media and data on any platform at home, work or in their cars.

"To make that a reality, a lot of different technologies behind the scenes are essential," Madsen said.

New CEO Ed Zander, a former Sun Microsystems executive, plotted Motorola's corporate direction, which needs some reinvigoration after several disappointing quarters of handset sales compared to rivals Nokia and Samsung.

Besides mobile phones and embedded computing, other pieces of the connectivity puzzle include semiconductors, automotive technologies (including GPS and telematics) and telecom, TV and broadband products -- all areas Motorola has devoted a business group to.

In addition, Motorola is working with standards groups to develop recognized standards that will support the development of new applications and the interoperability of networked devices.

The Force Computer acquisition deal will close during the third quarter, pending regulatory approval. Provided it does, the unit will be folded into the Motorola Computer Group (MCG), which does similar work.

For Motorola, the Force Computer acquisition will significantly expand its presence. MCG is based in Tempe, Ariz., and has facilities in Southborough, Mass., as well as China, India and the United Kingdom. It has 1,000 employees.

Force Computer has about half as many workers at its Fremont, Calif., headquarters and offices in Germany, India and Scotland.

Madsen said Force Computer employees will be offered jobs with MCG. Senior managers from both companies will meet to discuss the possibility of consolidating facilities and whether the Force Computer name will be retained.

More details about Motorola's company-wide strategy will be discussed at its analysts day next month.