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  1. Technology
January 23, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

The acquisition by Symbol Technologies Inc of MSI Data Corp in November, which went ahead after Telxon bowed out of the bidding for MSI in October (CI No 1039), has placed the new company Symbol MSI as a market leader in the manufacture of bar code readers and portable data collection systems in a market which the company forecasts will be worth $2,500m in 1992. The merger gives the new company, which already has 30% of of the $600m world market, a turnover of $179m, a worldwide staff of 1,530 people, and offices and distributors in North America, Europe, the Far East, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Symbol MSI will have immediate access to the customer base of the two companies, enabling Symbol to draw on MSI’s strength in Europe where it is the market leader, and where, until now, Symbol has only managed to claw back 12% to 15% of the market since 1981. To stress the compatibility of the two companies, Symbol MSI, based in Wokingham, Berkshire over here, has launched four new products. The two products developed by MSI are Datawand III and SDT. Hailed as the smallest data capture device in the world, Datawand III is a battery-operated bar code scanner which features 32Kb of memory, a real time clock and a custom built central processor. Data collected by the wand can then be transmitted via a data well to a telephone line, modem, MS-DOS micro or local area network. Costing UKP440, the pen is available now and is currently in use in the British Department of Health & Social Security. The SDT, or Scanning Data Terminal, has an integrated bar code scanner for one-handed data capture and comes in two versions, the 32Kb priced at UKP555, and the 64Kb priced at UKP595. Two way transmission of data to remote or local hosts is made via the SDT cradle which has an internal modem or RS232 direct connection feature.

Simple enough Symbol MSI anticipates that this integrated scanning terminal will be mainly used in market research, being simple enough and small enough for the housewife to use, says the company, recklessly exposing itself to the wrath of hordes of anything but-simple housewives. On its side, Symbol has developed a non contact version of the Datawand III, called the LS8560, which is a battery-powered laser scanner with 32Kb of memory, that can be programmed using bar code menus and has the ability to make 2,000 scans before uploading to a host via any of the proprietary decoders. Symbol has also launched the LS2000, a hand-held laser scanner weighing 6.5oz which, being designed for the retail environment, has an easily replaceable cable and has been drop tested to three feet on to concrete. Integrated versions will also be available, offering RS232 interfacing, wand emulation, and compatibility with NCR, ICL, IBM, Nixdorf and other major point of sale systems. The LS2000 retails for UKP815, while the LS8560 will be available in March for a sum of UKP983. Half of Symbol MSI’s business is with the retail sector, but growth is expected in applications for factory automation, defence, health care, and transport. Indeed, the new company intends to invest zz10% of its turnover in research and development to fulfil its pledge of providing state-of-the-art products. Symbol MSI products are distributed in the UK by Numeric Arts Ltd.

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