Originally Posted by gazebo
IMHO as a couch potato any touchscreen-only remote is a failure. Manufactures will do well to keep in mind that a remote is meant for single-handed operation, and by touch and feel without the aid of the eye.
I currently own a Harmony One after burning through two 880's in the last 5 years. I tried programming some of the touch screen keys as a way to reduce wear-and-tear on the "clicker" buttons that will undoubtedly go bad over time (if you owned an 880 you know what I'm talking about), but hated having to take my eyes off the TV or using two hands. I ended up just using the physical buttons with tactile feedback.
I was hoping in 2-3 years I will replace the One. But it looks like there's a chance there won't be a worthy succesor. As it is, IMHO Harmony One is inferior to 880 in terms of egonomics.
I agree with you 110%. But unfortunately the general public doesn't always go for the best solution. You have hundreds of millions of smart phones out there now, so people are compelled to use them as remotes. And while they look pretty, it's not the best solution. So harmony, unable to compete with cheap apps and existing devices (smart phones), starts losing sales. They tried to compete with the Link and the Touch, but poor design, execution and high prices doomed those attempts. Of course they also dug their own grave by bungling the new software and needlessly removing features, which pissed off the existing customer base.
They are so close to having a very successful, unbeatable product. But they won't put in that tiny bit of extra effort to make it happen. They won't listen to their customers, and even if they did, they probably don't have the budget or expertise to deliver. Their ineptitude has been proven time and time again over the life of the harmony product line. They started with a great product and inexplicably dumbed it down and removed features to the point that most of the current product line is far worse than the lineup they had a few years ago.
Any buyout of the product line is going to have a huge price tag and require a huge assumption of liability. On day one, the new owner will not only be on the hook for hardware and warranty support, but web servers for millions of existing customer's configurations, data servers, designers, engineers and phone support. And any buyer is also going to see the same shrinking market caused by smart phones that precipitated logitech's losses to begin with. So it's going to be a tough sell.
The really smart things harmony has going for it are the database built by users, ease of programming and relatively low prices, not to mention great distribution channels. So the value for a buyer lies in the name, the database infrastructure and the programming platform. Leverage those and improve the programming interface and feature set for end users, as well as embrace and support integrators and you can have a very successful product again.
The trickiest part is reliability. Most people expect temporary, throwaway electronics these days. So harmony is almost spot on. Their remotes typically last only a couple of years, which is long enough for most people to get tired of them anyway and want to upgrade. If that time to failure is much shorter you start losing customers. But if it's long enough, you keep them on the hook forever, buying replacements every few years. I personally prefer my remotes to last at least 10 years (which they do), but I'm probably in the minority. So I don't think the new owner of harmony will have to make any changes in terms of durability, only some changes in button layout.
It will be interesting to watch this play out.