Deal Watch: Motorola Heads for 4Home

Motorola's purchase of a home automation and control vendor tops off what's been a busy week of M&A

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

December 2, 2010

3 Min Read
Deal Watch: Motorola Heads for 4Home

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) Mobility is putting its money where its mouth is in the smart home, announcing late Wednesday it intends to acquire 4HomeMedia Inc. , which provides automation, monitoring, and energy management to the residential market. (See Motorola Acquires 4Home.)

4Home's software-based services let consumers remotely access their digital media, set their security systems, or monitor their energy usage and even their health. The company also has relationships with utilities, which are sought-after customers for telcos. (See HGI: Promote Energy-Smart Homes, iControl, uControl Strike Merger Deal , and BT Launches Smart Grid Consortium.)

The smart home is hot turf, one which telcos are also interested in getting involved with, and this deal could be Moto's way in. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), for one, is an investor in 4Home, suggesting future tie-ups between Moto and Big Red could be in the cards. (See Verizon Invests in 4Home.)

Since it is the Mobility half of Moto making the acquisition, it's also safe to assume 4Home's monitoring services will be tightly integrated with future smartphones and tablets from the handset maker. Interestingly, 4Home CEO Leon Hounshell also mentions in the release that the company will continue to tap into "new business segments, such as cable," hinting that 4Home could come into play in Moto's rumored streaming device, set to debut at CES next month. (See Moto to Split in Two on Jan. 4.)

Moto making itself at home wasn't the only deal of the week. In other M&A news:

  • RIM gets a TAT: Not a tattoo, per se, but sort of like that in the user interface sense. BlackBerry is buying Swedish UI developer TAT to complement its latest OS, BlackBerry 6, with a new and improved look. (See RIM Acquires TAT.)

  • Farmville maker plays Scrabble: Gaming company Zynga has snatched up developer NewToy, which is responsible for making the popular Scrabble knock-off Words With Friends, to help it ignite social gaming on mobile. If you've ever been annoyed by Facebook invitations to play Farmville or inundated with Mafia Wars updates, then you're familiar with Zynga. On mobile, the company already has 10 million downloads, but that's nothing compared to the 215 million users it has online.

  • eBay goes shopping: eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) today acquired local shopping search engine Milo for $75 million. The local commerce space is especially hot right now (see the next bullet point), and it gets more interesting when it goes mobile. Milo will be integrated into eBay's mobile platform, meaning that eBay's bar-code-scanning iPhone app RedLaser will soon show local results for on-the-spot shopping as well.

  • Google inking a deal with Groupon: Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) appears to be shopping for a good deal -- This acquisition is still just gossip, but as the talks between Google and the coupon site continue, it's looking more likely. The latest figures have the price at $6 billion. [Ed Note: Which is 65 percent off the original!]

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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