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March 2004


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2004: Mobile Leaders Get Smart

Instead of burning cash through acquisitions, early M&A activity hints this might be the year of tactical maneuvers.

By Teresa von Fuchs

Market activity, such as mergers and acquisitions, are often clues to emerging trends, like a strengthening economy. This year, however, is shaping up to show something different—that mobile vendors are merging more tactically.

According to Tony Rizzo, head of the mobile technology sector at the451, an analysis firm based in New York, Infowave’s acquisition of Telispark and Antenna Software’s acquisition of RPA Wireless are not indicators of market consolidation. Instead, Rizzo claims, “These are well-thought-out acquisitions that have happened because the companies really understand each others’ capabilities and see strategic fits.”

Infowave, which provides wireless software platforms, acquired Telispark, which has deployed its enterprise mobility applications to a solid base of Fortune 500 companies, such as Shell Oil. “This is a great opportunity,” says Infowave CEO Jerry Meerkatz. “Infowave and Telispark don’t have a lot of product overlap, we’ve got a lot of synergy—and this synergistic approach will allow us to very quickly get going.”

In another acquisition, Antenna, a provider of wireless enterprise solutions, acquired RPA, a mobile systems integrator. The new company, retaining the name Antenna, boasts more than 90 enterprise customers and users in some 37 countries. Antenna refers to the acquisition as a merger because “the combined company will leverage each organization’s respective strengths,” according to Jim Hemmer, Antenna’s CEO, who claims the new organization now offers “a complete suite of end-to-end mobile solutions.”

In another move, Altiris acquired Wise Solutions, a provider of enterprise
application management software, to enhance Altiris’ product offerings in the area of software delivery and patch management.

According to the451, 2005 will be the breakout year for mobile technology. Rizzo sees these acquisitions as smart planning for the future. “The companies that use 2004 to really strengthen their basic position, like the Infowave and Telispark combination, will be the companies that ultimately, in 2005 and 2006, emerge as the stronger players.”

—Teresa von Fuchs

Copyright 2004 Leisure Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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