Fueled in part by earnings announcements, the past two weeks have brought in a flurry of news regarding the home networking device world. Linksys will leave the enterprise-minded Cisco to become part of Linksys. Its competitor Netgear will scoop up Sierra Wireless’ personal hotspot business, joining its acquisition of the Vuezone line of networked cameras via Avaak last year. And Logitech will leave the networked camera space in which it competed with the Alert system, formerly the Wi-Life offering from Lukwerks that it acquired a while back.
For Logitech, the divesting or dismantling of the Alert and Harmony lines represent a Waterloo in what had been a long string of successful acquisitions. In particular, the company had executed well in building the Harmony business after purchasing its originator Intrigue. The logic flowed that the remote control would be to the television what the mouse and keyboard — Logitech’s original core business — was to the PC.
As for Alert, it is a well-designed system, but one that just requires a bit too much work and expense for the average consumer. To its credit, Logitech sought to decrease the reliance on a PC server to simplify its operation, but an unmonitored solution is a relatively tough sell for something aimed squarely at security. In contrast, the VueZone product that Netgear has picked up — like the Wi-Fi-based Hive product –has more of a sporadic check-in/social angle.
But Logitech will still rely heavily on at least one relatively recent and somewhat unusual acquisition for growth. With Ultimate Ears, it picked up a professional in–ear monitor brand after a lackluster first effort in the premium headphone market under its own brand. Not only has it entered the headphone horserace along with countless others (but relying on acoustic cred rather than celebity endorsement, but it has expanded the brand to wireless speaker products as well. Logitech is also getting back to its input periperhal roots in making up for a late start in tablet accessories. While its best-selling Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad was well-received out of the gate, it has been the closest response to the Surface click-in keyboards to which iPad users had access, at least until recently.