Don't feel bad if you've never heard of Flextronics
, Solectron or both -- we polled our mom on the subject, and she asked when we were going to give up this "blogging nonsense" for a real job -- but these two fairly low-profile contract electronics manufacturers churn out massive amounts of product for other little companies you might have heard of: like HP, Dell, Sony, Ericsson, Cisco, Motorola and Microsoft
. Now Flextronics is ending this bitter rivalry in a Coke buys Pepsi-type shocker, forking over $3.6 billion in cash and stock for Solectron. Flextronics will operate Solectron as a subsidiary, and claims the purchase will help it expand scale and market reach, while saving on costs, with the deal to add about 15 percent to earnings, claims the manufacturer.