Logitech Reverses Course, Will Now Replace Harmony Link For Free

Joel Hruska


Yesterday, we reported on Logitech’s bone-headed decision to pull all support for its Harmony Link system in March 2018 . The issue was exacerbated by Logitech’s baffling decision to offer only Harmony Link customers with an existing warranty a free upgrade to the Harmony Hub, while giving earlier customers a 35 percent purchase price on an upgrade to the same.  None of this went over well with customers who had perfectly functional hardware already and weren’t interested in replacing it.
Now, Logitech has pulled something of an about-face. The company now promises that at some point between now and March 2018, it will provide a free Harmony Hub to existing Link owners. If you already redeemed your 35 percent discount on the Harmony Hub, the full amount of your purchase will be refunded and you will still receive the item.
HarmonyHub
First of all, it’s good Logitech is taking a better approach to this situation; offering customers a free upgrade is a better resolution than suddenly turning off their old hardware. But there’s a larger overarching issue at stake here that Logitech’s offer of a free Harmony Hub really doesn’t address: When is the hardware you purchase actually yours?
In its FAQ, Logitech writes:
We made the business decision to end the support and services of the Harmony Link when the encryption certificate expires in the spring of 2018 – we would be acting irresponsibly by continuing the service knowing its potential/future vulnerability.
That’s a valid concern. Security problems within the IoT are legion and consumers need solutions they can trust. The problem is, security systems also need to ultimately be answerable to the end user in cases where the company in question isn’t interested in maintaining the product. End-user communities have been created to perform this task around routers and phones in many cases. While their work has never been perfect (being open-source doesn’t magically make projects free of security flaws), there needs to be a way to either deploy additional security systems in place of certificate-based security or to allow an outside group to run projects.
In an interview with Wired, Rory Dooley, head of Logitech Harmony, stated: “You’re always learning. The best way of learning is when you stumble, as we did here. Having an easy path for the customer that’s using a product and using a service is the right way of looking at this. We didn’t look at it that way, unfortunately. And we’ve learned from it.”
But Dooley seems to be learning the wrong lesson. The lesson here is not that Logitech has to have a path forward for all customers in perpetuity. At a certain point, in fact, it would become economically infeasible to keep giving an expanding customer base an upgrade to the latest and greatest model simply because they owned the previous one. And while I genuinely give Logitech credit for its prompt response to customers, kicking the can down the road doesn’t solve the fundamental ownership issue. So long as Logitech or any other company has the right to brick your hardware at a moment of their choosing, it isn’t evenyour IoT device. You’ve paid a $100 to $300 fee (possibly more, depending on configuration options) to rent hardware that could literally be worthless in six months. And since total compatibility for IoT and smart home devices is still more an aspiration than reality, you could find yourself redeploying an entirely new system to replace it, with no guarantee it’ll fare better than the first.
Any company that wants to actually popularize IoT would do well to pay attention to issues like this. Customers certainly will. People may not understand device security, but they can certainly figure out that paying $100 to $300 for products with a 2-4 year lifespan is a much worse deal than doing things the old-fashioned way.
Logitech Reverses Course, Will Now Replace Harmony Link For Free Reviewed by Bizpodia on 21:00 Rating: 5

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