Rumors have been persistent that Logitech will be discontinuing the Harmony line. While we have no inside information, and Logitech has neither confirmed nor denied these rumors, there is a lot of stress in the industry about the future of the brand.
Following different social media groups and online forums, I see a lot of dealers asking for advice about what line to carry to replace Harmony. While I am obviously partial to Crestron, there are plenty of options out there for dealers — everything from the core automation brands like Crestron, Control4, and URC Total Control, to one-room solutions like URC Complete Control and Pro Control. All are solid solutions and I do not think you can go wrong with any of them. My biggest advice is to not only pick a line you feel comfortable using in most, if not all, of your installations, and that you feel confident will be around for a while, but also have a backup.
Also by Todd Anthony Puma: 4 Key Stress Reducers
We have back-up options for almost every line we sell. We love Anthem AVRs, but if something happens, we also know the Marantz line-up well and are familiar with configuring and installing them. Granted, with inventory issues, no AVR brand is a solid back-up source right now. For control, if for some reason we could not do Crestron, we have access to URC through distribution and could probably quickly reactivate our dealer direct account. Audio streamers? While Sonos is our go-to line for flexibility and breadth of services offered, we can always use Autonomic, HEOS, or the new Creston NAX when it starts shipping.
Most importantly, if your primary line in a category is not the primary business of the manufacturer, you need to first question if that should be your primary line. If you decide that you want to continue with that line, you need to have alternatives lined up and ready to go. A great example is Google. Google is well known for investing in product lines and then quickly killing them off or changing them dramatically. Google Hangouts has since been replaced by Google Meet. And I’m sure many of you experienced the fun that was the discontinuation of “Works With Nest” well before there was a replacement, and then going through the conversion on all of your projects to “Works with Google Assistant.”
Similarly, those in the channel who rely on eero were pretty safe when eero was a stand-alone business and mesh networking was its only revenue stream. Now it is owned by Amazon, and who is to say that Amazon does not discontinue the Pro Dashboard? Or pull eero from our channel completely? Or discontinue the line completely, much like Apple did with the Airport line. You must have a backup in case that happens.
On the other hand, companies like Crestron, SnapAV/Control4, and even Sonos are committed to their product lines. For Crestron and Snap/Contro4, while certain products may be discontinued, with the dedication to our channel, chances are they will be supported for quite some time before they are completely abandoned. Sonos’ only business is audio streaming hardware and, as far as I can recall, they have only discontinued three products without direct replacements already in the market or close to being launched — the handheld controller that became obsolete with the popularity of the smartphone; the PlayBase, which frankly did not impact our channel very much anyway; and the Play3, which can be easily substituted with a Sonos One or a Five. While many in our channel poo-poo Sonos, they do not discontinue product lightly and, if they do not go out of business or get acquired by a huge company, they and their products will be around for a long time to come.
Also by Todd Anthony Puma: What DIY Does Right
So, what should dealers who rely on Harmony do? They should have an alternative lined up and ready to go. If you do not have the volume of sales to support a Crestron, Control4, Savant, URC Total Control, or ELAN business model, then look toward the brands carried by distributors — URC Complete Control and Total Control Lite or RTI and Pro Control (sister companies). Get authorized for one of the lines and then get trained on it. Bring a sample system into your shop or your home to get familiar with it in case you need it suddenly.
Like the Boy Scouts say: “Be prepared.”