Trimble Pays $496M For @Road

Trimble Navigation , maker of GPS-based navigation
equipment for mobile devices, will pay $496 million for @Road
. With the acquisition, Trimble enters the employee
tracking field known as Mobile Resource Management (MRM).

As part of the definitive agreement, Trimble will pay $7.50 per share of
@Road — $5 in cash and $2.50 in cash and/or stock, according to the
announcement. @Road will become part of Trimble’s mobile services unit.

Trimble said the purchase makes sense for several reasons, including meshing
with its current mobile field service management services, cost savings and
increased access to telecom carriers, systems integrators and enterprise
software providers.

The lure of MRM stems from its combined use of GPS technology, handheld
computers and wireless carriers to provide companies a way to reduce costs,
maximize field workforce efficiency and offer “just-in-time” inventory

According to Frost & Sullivan, tracking employees in the field will grow to
a $2.6 billion market by 2010, up from $1.2 billion this year, Trimble said.

Winners in the MRM area will give businesses a way to optimize their
workforces while offering more than basic tracking and dispatch software,
Frost & Sullivan industry research manager Brent Iadarola, said in a

Qualcomm and Sprint Nextel will be
Trimble’s competitors in the MRM space, Steve Berglund, Trimble’s CEO, said
during a conference call.

“The anticipated growth rates for MRM make this combination an attractive
addition to the Trimble portfolio,” Berglund said in a statement.

Berglund said @Road’s enterprise customers reinforce previous investments
within its mobile services group.

In a similar move, Trimble in November acquired Spacient Technologies, a privately held enterprise field service management and
mobile mapping software maker with municipal and utilities customers. MRM
can also be used by transportation, telecommunications and public works.

@Road wireless carrier partners include Sprint-Nextel, Cingular, Verizon and
Alltel’s and Canada’s Telus Mobility.

[Trimble’s] hardware business is becoming a niche,” Forrester Research
analyst Charles Golvin said. GPS is increasingly built into more mobile
devices, making today’s agreement with @Road make even more sense.

Earlier this year Trimble inked an agreement with cell phone giant Nokia to
cross-license patents. In exchange for licensing Trimble’s Global Navigation
Satellite System, Trimble gains access to Nokia’s location-based

In other news, Trimble said the acquisition of @Road will contribute between
$80 million and $85 million of Trimble’s $1.1 billion, according to a

Trimble plans a Jan. 25, 2007, conference call to announce its fiscal 2007

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