Logitech is a rare technology company. It’s been around for 35 years, all the while finding different ways to thrive as an independent accessory maker. But despite being a well-known brand, it’s never been considered “hip” like Apple or Beats. Instead of betting big on showy new products, Logitech has always focused on finding successful niches where it can build a small, but loyal following. And according to the company’s CEO, Bracken Darrell, he wouldn’t have it any other way. At SXSW last week, I sat down with Darrell to chat about the road ahead for Logitech.
Where is Logitech now and where is it going?
When I look around, I see that everything will be reinvented. It may take 20 years, but there won’t be a single thing in this room that isn’t connected. In that world, it’s so cool because the really large companies can’t do everything, nor would they want to. It leaves room for people like us to go into small ponds where we can be a big fish. We’re never going to try to compete with the big guys in anything that’s meaningful to them. But we can go into a lot of little places.
There are so many opportunities. We have a lot technologies, great acoustics, far-field mics, video sensors. And we’re building out our software capabilities, so we can offer something where we should.
Are we going to see more products like the Circle camera relying on connected software?
I always say, we want to be capable of doing it, but we don’t need to do it. We’ll do it where it makes sense, where the business model requires it. But in general we’re perfectly happy letting cloud companies fulfill their mission and enable them through hardware. We’re also willing to jump up into the cloud and create our own service when we need to. I think the key is flexibility.
Logitech has always been known as more of an accessory company. Since tech is expanding now, does that mean there are now more areas for you to conquer?
The analogy that I always use is, if you watched us during our heyday, during the peak of the growth curve that happened between 1997 and 1998 to 2008, the platform was growing, and that was the PC. We had mice and keyboards, and we were gaining share during that period. We had different ways to grow: The platform grew, we were adding new categories like speakers and cameras, but the total mix was really exciting.
What attracts Logitech to the audio market? Most consumers generally don’t pay that much attention to their audio these days.
Now I won’t be humble for a minute: We have such great acoustic capabilities. We have a lot of people at the company who are bleeding music. They’re so into it. And then we also have the technology capabilities. It’d be a shame if we couldn’t take advantage of that. It’s obviously a hot space now, the key is finding our little niche in it. We don’t want to go taking on everyone big.
We do headphones for gaming — that’s a great business — and we do them for sports. It kind of inspires you to get out there, they’re helmet ready. Jaybird was originally built in the mountains, it was for people who were really into outdoor sports. And then we’re doing the custom earphone business.