On April 15, 2014 Zebra announced that it was acquiring Motorola Solutions enterprise business arm for 3.45 billion, effectively consolidating the ruggedized device, dedicated barcode scanner and printer markets. As a result of the move, some may believe competition in the traditional barcode scanning hardware market is now a head to head match between Honeywell and Zebra. However, analysts and others who study the industry see what other fail to see: that the traditional barcode scanning and AIDC market is undergoing rapid transformation as high-precision software-based scanners are replacing traditional hardware-based scanners and opening up new possibilities and use cases.
Software-based scanners built into Android and iOS apps running on commodity hardware, such as smartphones and tablets, may not be ruggedized out of the box, but can easily be transformed into rugged devices through a variety of rugged cases on the market today. Newer and more dynamic software-based developers may be the real story behind the Zebra/Motorola acquisition. By leveraging the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend in enterprises today and offering the ability to deliver more powerful insights and analytics through associated “cloud services,” software-based scanning is well positioned to push traditional players aside, suggesting that the Zebra/Motorola deal is likely a defensive move designed to consolidate forces and protect market share against the true threat.
In VDC’s analysis, they note that “VDC remains skeptical about Zebra’s ability to turn around Motorola Solutions’ struggling enterprise business sales given the onslaught of consumer devices and growing threat to incumbents from low-cost competitors.”
As for Scandit, we will continue to mature and refine our barcode scanning technology for smartphones, tablets, and wearables. While there will continue to be use cases where traditional ruggedized devices and barcode scanners are used, rapid innovation in barcode scanning technology means that we will continue to demonstrate the advantages of our patented barcode scanner platform to app developers and enterprises that want to position themselves for future advantage through improved consumer engagement, lower total cost of ownership, and increased back-office efficiencies.
As for the Zebra/Motorola news, make sure you read the real story between the lines: software-based scanning is transforming the AIDC market and is here to stay.