Another one bites the dust.
But at least:
the company says it will continue to provide support and service for the Harmony remote “as long as customers are using it.”
The problem with this particular business is that there’s really no money to be made. I bought my first Harmony Hub in 2013, and it’s still going strong. I bought my second one off of someone else who wasn’t using it. So, Logitech hasn’t generated any profit from me over eight years, even though I use the product at lease a few times a week. That’s probably the same for the vast majority of Harmony Hub users.
So when you consider how small sales are relative to their other products, it kind of makes sense. You can’t just cut off the service (or start charging for subscriptions) without people screaming bloody murder, so instead you stop selling the product and keep supporting it until the user base dwindles.
I’d like to think that when they do shut down the servers, they’ll at least make it possible for people to program remotes manually. Then, the only thing I’d really be losing is the Google Assistant integration (which I barely use due to the lag).
EDIT: Actually, I guess we would also lose the integration with OH if the API disappears. Hopefully a solution develops before that happens.
Russ, can’t you hack one of those things with an infrared receiver or something? It’s infrared right? (guessing)
Harmony Hubs have IR, WiFi, and Bluetooth, so you can use them with any device that Logitech has added to the database. You can also capture IR codes from unknown remotes/devices, but you have to use the app to start the process. Everything goes through the Logitech cloud, and this is one case where I don’t mind. They’ve added a ton of devices over the years…I was even able to find my Rowenta pedastal fan.
The issue will be that more and more devices are abandoning IR in favour of RF and Bluetooth remotes. I imagine those would be difficult to integrate without Logitech doing the work, and I’d understand if Logitech doesn’t want to put any more resources toward adding devices in the future.
Already expected this for some time.
Prices for the premium remotes raised ridiculously over the last years, seems they were trying to make more money out of it but failed.
As nobody was willing or able to buy the remote division of Logitech there may be more money in writing it off. Maybe someone will step in after it is in the Logitech books for only half the current value…
Hope mine will still last long, but as one of my daughters tends to drop it a bit too often I am not that convinced.
The OH binding talks to the hub directly, no cloud server is involved. This will continue forever. The problem comes from the inability to add/change devices and activities after they shut down the cloud servers. In theory this is also possible. The Harmony line used to be programable fully from an offline thick client. Harmony shifted to a cloud based solution to simplify the client, and allow devices to be added and updated instantly as consumer electronics changed.
I am very saddened by this announcement myself. I have 4 hubs, I would pay $20-30 a year to maintain them in a heart beat.
Sorry, that’s what I was referring to in my previous comment, but it wasn’t clear.
It wouldn’t entirely surprise me if Logitech offers this option in the future. Some articles suggest that maybe they’ll sell the service to another company, but that’s not necessarily better. Companies that take over existing products/services usually (not always) want to profit from them, and often feel no loyalty to existing users.
The best outcome, in my opinion, would be similar to what happened with Pebble. FitBit kept the Pebble servers online until the user-created Rebble project was up and running with their subscription service.
I’m not surprised by this either. I used to have a couple of basic Harmony Remotes (I don’t even remember the model but they didn’t have an LCD screen). This was back when I had four or five devices that all had to be independently controlled to work the TV (satellite receiver, stereo receiver, DVD player, HTPC, and so on). It was great for that. Instead of five remotes with 50 buttons on them we had one remote with 50 buttons on it.
But with the rise of TV sound bars, the CEC, streaming devices with voice search, and the falling away of DVD/Blueray players and cable TV subscriptions there is just no need for 50+ buttons on a remote. You can do almost anything with a 15 button Roku remote (not counting the specific channel buttons at the bottom). And if you need more, a Sideclick will add 8 more programmable buttons (and make the remote easier to find, those little buggers get lost easily). Google TV’s remote is even svelter with a mere 13 buttons (not counting the two specific channel buttons) and Sideclick is available for it as well.
I guess the point I’m making is the main market for the harmonies, controlling complicated media center devices, is going away and being replaced with voice and much simpler control paradigms. As we are aware, using a remote control for home automation is too niche to create a market for these types of remotes. It’s the end of an era for sure.
This is so sad. But Logitech has “prior” on this. They bought out the (then) classic world leader Slim Devices for zillions, and then killed it within a year. Sad…
I don’t think that’s really comparable. First, it was actually about 5-6 years between buying and shuttering Squeezebox, and if I recall correctly they incorporated the IP into their Ultimate Ears products. So I perceive that it was more about brand consolidation, and the UE brand won.
As for Harmony, Logitech is the clear leader in universal remotes, and they’ve clearly realized that they’re not going to make money on it going forward. They’ve certainly put in the time and effort over 15+ years to try and make it work. I agree with the factors Rich outlined, and I’d add that many new remotes come with built-in voice assistance (not always Alexa or Google). It’s becoming harder for Harmony to add value if you aren’t already using it.
Functionally, I agree with you on this. Aesthetically, I can’t get past how hideous those Sideclicks are.
Seriously though, I’ve been a bit surprised by how much I like the Google TV remote. It’s not perfect, but it’s very comfortable to hold and easy to use.
Has there ever been a remote that didn’t look hideous? The looks of the Slideclick don’t bother us and having one remote we can do everything we do on a regular basis to the TV (namely setting an auto off timer) is more important than looks. And the bulk it adds makes it harder to lose.
My biggest problem with the Google Remote is it’s so close to but not exactly like the Roku remote. My muscle memory is for the Roku so I often get the wrong button on Google unless I’m looking at it. But that’s on me more than anything.
Harmony is probably falling victim to the innovator’s dilemma. They failed to plan for a future where a complicated remote to replace other complicated remotes will no longer be something enough people need to sustain the market. It didn’t help that it was a small part of a much larger company and it really never was in the main competency area of that larger company. So the lack of innovation has as much to do with lack of investment as it does to do with a failure to recognize the changing markets or take the reins of the market and innovate something new themselves, even if it came at the expense of their core market. When all the bosses care about is next quarter’s results, it’s really hard to convince them to take a few hits for a couple of years for creating a new market or increased market share later.
As home automation enthusiasts though we need to take our own lesson from this. Nothing is forever in this space. Pick a technology, and technology at random. Out of a hundred I’d be surprised if more than one of them will still be around and functional in 20 years. Home automation is forever a moving target.
Am I missing something here? My audio visual set up comprises 5 devices (TV, STB, Receiver, HTPC, Blu-ray player) and 3 scenes (Music, TV, Blu-ray). Are you saying there exists a Google widget that can control all those devices in all the respective scenes?
No, I’m saying that for many of us, we’ve abandoned all those extra devices. In the den where the big TV I used to have all that. I now have:
In the bedroom where the other TV is I now have:
- Google TV
The HTPC is replaced by a Plex Media Server and the Plex app on the streaming device. Satellite has been replaces with Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc. with their respective apps on the streaming device. The receiver has been replaced by the sound bar and CEC from the TV. The BlueRay has been replaced by Plex and the streaming services with the respective apps on the streaming devices.
For lots of people, especially the younger set and so called “cord cutters”, the job of a remote is simpler because they simply don’t have that much to control anymore. Therefore the overall market of people with 5 devices to control their media is shrinking. For many of us, the remote that comes with the TV is only used to set up the TV the first time it’s started up and to program two-five buttons on the Sideclick.
I can only speak from personal experience, but I can say that it was incredibly freeing to be able to dump all that extra hardware and the complications that come with it. Less power, less heat, and less complicated. It was very much the same feeling when I cancelled my home phone line. And the sound bar in the den (5.1 with rear speakers) sound so much better than the massive 20-year old Sony receiver I used to have with the three foot tall speakers. At some point I’ll even mount the main sound bar to the bottom of the TV and the only cable that will be coming from the TV will be one power cable.
I’m not trying to convert anyone or tell anyone this is the way to go. But I am saying that this is the way that a huge chunk of the universal remote market is going. In fact, I’m actually already “old school” compared to the teenagers and twenty somethings who rarely actually consume media on a large screen anyway. It’s all watched on phones and tablets and laptops.
As Rich says, it’s not about the current user base, but a future market that looks much smaller than it already is.
Can’t say that I am particularly surprised by this news. I have two Harmony remotes and I hate both of them with a burning passion. The hate is mostly due to the exceptionally horrible software and honestly very unattractive remote design.
The only good thing about them is that they are useful for times when you don’t have an original remote for some retro thing and you can just search through their database and get the remote codes for that. And even then I tend to use the harmony to then tech one of the cheap wifi/mqtt IR bridges with it. For universal remote use I have a One For All Streamer Remote which costs a fraction of a harmony remote but in my opinion offers a much better design and doesn’t need horrible software to be useful.
There’s a great article about this on Wired.
I think this depends on which one you get. If we’re talking about the IR-only versions then I agree with you. However, I love the look of my basic Harmony Hub remote. More importantly, I like that it fits in my hand and runs of off a CR2032 battery for an extremely long time.
That’s the one I’m going to miss. Unfortunately, they ruined it in later versions by moving the media controls below the volume/channel buttons so that they could add dedicated buttons for Phillips Hue devices.
I also have a Harmony Ultimate, but it’s poorly designed. Beyond my dislike for touchscreen remotes, it doesn’t fit well in my hand and the buttons aren’t intuitive. Also, it has to live in its proprietary charger. I only bought this one because I found it used for a good price
As for the software, I completely agree with you that it’s bad.
Just see this
Some of us (parents) still have a stereo, blue ray, humax etc and harmony is a lifesaver.