Logitech Killing Harmony Link, A Case Study in Mishandling EOL Products
There is an incredible amount of ways to break the news that a product has reached its end-of-life to your customers, whether they be dealers or homeowners. Ways that feel professional and can convey that you, the vendor, care about the relationship you are building with these people. Waiting for it to come up organically on your forums, shrugging your shoulders, and confirming that a product has about four months use before it is bricked may possibly be the farthest from any scenario of professionalism.
It's also precisely what Logitech did with their cloud-based home theater controller, the Harmony Link.
At the time of its release, it let any smartphone act as and control the popular Harmony Remote using WiFi. We've seen a wave of products and AV-control solutions pop up, but it was kind of revolutionary for 2011, but feeling a bit dated for 2017. In fact, Logitech has since released the Harmony Hub, a $100 successor that has everything from the Harmony Link and a few more tricks to boot. It is also being offered to Logitech owners as a make good on the sudden death of their favorite product if homeowners have a warranty. Otherwise, the Harmony Link is good for 35% off the Harmony Hub.
Here is the message from Logitech employee Logi_WillWong on their official forums
We just updated our Harmony Link application to inform customers of this end of life. As we previously communicated to affected customers via email, Logitech Harmony Link services and support will no longer be available to users effective on March 16, 2018.
I want to make sure those within warranty redeem their free Harmony Hub, which provides similar, if not better, app-based remote control features to Harmony Link.
For those that are out-of-warranty, we are providing a one-time discount offer for a new replacement remote from Logitech.com. I hope you will take advantage of it.
If you did not receive your code for a replacement or discount, please send us an email at https://support.myharmony.com/email.
The responses also detail that a "technology certificate license" will expire in March leaving the Logitech Link unuseable, hence the brick.
"The technology certificate is an encryption certification that expires in the spring of 2018, which may open the product up to potential security vulnerabilities," said Rory Dooley, head of Logitech Harmony in a statement to arstechnica. "We've refocused development resources on newer technologies, and therefore, we are not updating the Harmony Link certificate. We first communicated to affected customers in August 2017 that we are offering a free Harmony Hub to replace a Link (if under warranty) or a discount on the Harmony Hub (if out-of-warranty)."
At the end of the day, there are a lot of different ways to dissect this one. On the one hand, it seems like a pretty reasonable response by Logitech. The license is done on an exclusively cloud-based system, so it is time to kill the 6-year project and move on. Maybe that's the gamble you get for investing in the cloud.
Or maybe, offering your upgraded product as an incentive to stay in-house after pulling the rug on customers is a tremendous way to add insult to injury. It also feels unreasonable that a product should die, by the vendor's hand, after just six years of life. Hopefully, Logitech (and others) can learn from this error and won't build a system that relies so heavily on these sort of licenses and web-based architecture.
Either way, the whole situation can be summed up as exactly what not to do when handling death in your product line.