Dell and Wyse: With new thin client, so far, so good
By most accounts, the Dell acquisition of Wyse in 2012 for a reported $400 million has worked out quite well: The new Cloud Connect thumbdrive plugs into any HDTV to use that screen as a secure thin computer. This kind of remote cloud access using a thin client is an important step away from the "personal computer" where files are stored locally. "Dell is making a smart move by embracing the cloud," says Braun.
Google and Motorola: Keeping patents, ditching hardware
At the time of Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola (May 2012, when Chinese regulators gave it the OK), the marriage of the Android OS with a popular hardware brand seemed logical. Google needed a hardware platform to lead the way for partners like Samsung and HTC. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out; Lenovo is buying key parts of Motorola, the famed company that invented the cell phone, for less than $3 billion. Google will retain key patents - which might have been the goal all along.
"This loss-making division was supposed to usher in an era of new devices built entirely by Google," says David Braun, the CEO of Capstone Strategic, a company that analyzes mergers. "Unfortunately, Moto X ... performed poorly in comparison to comparable devices. Google's failure with Motorola was partly due to issues with integrating Motorola with Google's existing hardware division and with the company as a whole."
HP and Palm: How not to merge
One of the most interesting combinations in tech, the HP acquisition of Palm in 2010 for $1.2 billion was intended to fuel the creation of new products, namely tablets and smartphones. (Back then, they were new.) King says HP failed to capitalize on the acquisition with outright incompetence, a lack of strategy, and poor execution.
Indeed, HP recently sold Palm's WebOS interface to LG, which plans to use the OS on televisions, and its Palm and iPaq patent to Qualcomm. Since then, HP has picked Microsoft, Chrome and Android as their platform of choice in products such as the HP Chromebook 14 and the HP Slate 21 Pro.
EMC and VMware: A decade later, still a strong marriage
Another success for tech titan unification, this merger from 2003 for $635 million represents a good example of two companies with complementary product offerings (storage and virtualization, respectively) creating a stronger whole. A decade later, EMC's VMware buy proves two large successful companies can blend into one. "VMware fit in with EMC's desire to supply more than storage, and VMware's enterprise software has become a key means for EMC to maintain its relevance," Enderle says.
John Brandon is a former IT manager at a Fortune 100 company who now writes about technology. He has written more than 2,500 articles in the past 10 years. You can follow him on Twitter @jmbrandonbb. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.
Read more about mergers/acquisitions in CIO's Mergers/Acquisitions Drilldown.