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Motorola Moves Squarely into WLAN Market

The old has become new again at Motorola. The company, which has experienced rough times recently, seems poised to dump its consumer products and focus once again on corporate networking gear.
The old has become new again at Motorola. The company, which has experienced rough times recently, seems poised to dump its consumer products and focus once again on corporate networking gear.What is Motorolas core business? A few years ago, it seemed like cellular phones represented its future as the vendor rode a wave of acceptance for its sleek Razr. Demonstrating consumers fickleness, the companys stay as a top phone supplier was a short one. Recently, the vendor has been falling further and further behind market leader Nokia. With a new management team in place, it appears that Motorola is getting ready to dump its phones.

So whats next? Buoyed by a fall 2006 purchase of WLAN equipment vendor Symbol Technologies, Motorola seems poised to focus on corporate wireless networking needs. Further evidence came when the vendor bought AirDefense, a wireless security software supplier. Founded in 2001, AirDefense claims to have 800 customers and been successful in government, health care, and retail market sectors.

Wireless LANs have been working their way from niche to mainstream technology. As these systems become larger and more complex, small and medium businesses have been searching for suppliers able to deliver all of the needed components. The Air Defense/Motorola pairing can now couple security and network products. Other vendors have made similar moves: Aruba purchased WLAN network management company AirWave Wireless at the start of the year, and recently, Belden said it would acquire WLAN vendor Trapeze Networks.

Motorola has thrown its hat squarely in the wireless networking arena. The company has a lengthy track record serving corporate customers but does face some challenges. Though popular, the Symbol products have been more of a niche offering (mainly warehousing and retail) than a mainstream system. Also the vendor needs to integrate the AirDefense product and company into Motorola. Last and perhaps more importantly, the supplier has to demonstrate that it has the vision and the wherewithal to remain a key player in the WLAN space for the long term and that this latest move is not just another passing fancy.

What do you think of AirDefense as a supplier? Were you surprised at the acquisition? What is your take on Motorolas future?