Monopolies are lazy. Logitech bought, monopolized, and killed the universal remote control business.
When I was working at a company where we wrote 'smart' TV tuner software which ran on Android phones with IR-emitters such as Samsungs, I think the most valuable asset we held was the IR code database we had acquired through the purchase of another company. All the code we wrote would had been useless without that database.
I have 2 Harmony Ultimates and use the app. This is really disappointing. They should license the IR code database to tech companies at a minimum - why not monetize an asset you can monetize? They can passively update it or allow paid, trusted licensors access to update codes...
I bought a Logitech Harmony and returned it when I found out it was dependent on a bullshit online account that you HAD to set up to use the product to control things in your own home. I posted about this scam in some forums and got mocked by apologist assholes... but two months later Logitech shitcanned the entire product and infrastructure, and orphaned all of those eager victims.
This is why you don't hitch yourself to "cloud"-based bullshit. It can be taken away from you at any moment. Consumers vote against themselves all the time, and berate those who call them out on it.
It's kind of surprising what a void the universal-control market is. There's basically no good solution. I guess what this reveals is that people take what they're given: They have their big-ass Chinese TV from Costco, with a soundbar at most, and that's good enough for them. This leaves the "high-end" or even "higher-end" markets incredibly small, and served by janky outdated junk that's barely hanging onto survival. Look at NAD products if you want a good example. What a shitshow.
Anyway, the only remaining game in town seems to be "JP1" remotes. There's a bunch of open-source support for this platform. Look it up.
I find this particularly frustrating because I have a complicated home setup that requires a universal remote. On top of that I just bought the Harmony Elite less than a year ago. All in all it’s a good remote and light years beyond the Harmony 900 it replaced for me. Really disappointed because ow I have to worry about how long Logitech will support it. I doubt it will be for years to come.
My favorite home music player was the Squeezebox. I bought several and used them all around my house. Logitech bought the company, and other that rebranding it "Logitech", left it to die on the vine. Then they dropped the product "because it wasn't selling". Other than keyboards and mice, the company is a graveyard for good products.
I received a Logitech Harmony remote a couple years ago as part of a package deal - the remote was essentially free. I suspect it was a last ditch effort to get their remotes noticed. The remote is pretty nice, but just like you stated in the article, the software is terrible and buggy. Why do I have to run MyHarmony application with administrative privileges? Obviously you can't write good software... and that's just getting started. I had always wondered why there was so little competition except from difficult, overwhelming open source approaches. I hope the IR database gets leaked, it's the least some likely underpaid overworked software engineer could do! I feel also (and it seems you hinted at this) that monopolies in hardware makers, and the proliferation of smart TVs (all-in-ones) will always make this a niche market at best.
Its more profitable to engage in illegal anti-competitive business practices than innovation, but only because judges and regulators have turned a blind eye to law breaking. Corruption is more profitable than honest hard work and judges and politicians are partaking in it just like their friends on Wallstreet. The consumer and voter are being fleeced by the "elites" who are anything but.
I got burned on a Harmony remote many years ago. Pure junk. Nothing in your article surprises me.
This article from wired shows a similar story woth a startup disrupting the business model of an icre cream machine maker that relied on having monopoly of the repair of their machines: https://www.wired.com/story/they-hacked-mcdonalds-ice-cream-makers-started-cold-war/
This article has 7k upvotes and 1k comments on reddit. I was glad to see you posted there. The top post on gadgets. Hopefully that traffic is making it here.
The problem is that one signal can operate many devices. We need a standard. Start with a byte for the brand or manufacturer (with 1/3 being issued to manufacturers, 1/3 being labeled for generics, and 1/3 reserved for future use knowing that the generics will become the most commonly used ones,) then a byte for the kind of device, then a byte for the last part of the serial number, then two bytes for the command. IR can transmit 40 bits. I would never again turn off my LG TV (used as a computer monitor) when turning on my HiSense TV (used as a second computer monitor.) I could adjust the volume on one without messing up the volume on another one. Put the 24 bits on the back of a TV with a sticker, and with laser engraving. Put 24 DIP switches in every remote. Make every remote truly universal. Universal remotes can have 4 or more sets of 24 DIP switches, or they can work with a phone app.
If I was Amazon, I'd happily go into this market. That way, they could better understand everything you own. Overlay Alexa on top, and you'd be good to go.
According to a software engineer friend, this can't happen (at least not for old items which use the universal remote) because once the remote is programmed, the database no longer matters.
Each manufacturer has their codes saved somewhere.
She says it is fear-mongering to say otherwise.
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I've used universal remotes that had a learning mode - meaning you could press a button on almost any remote you had, and the universal remote would learn that code. So it seems to me that universal remotes shouldn't disappear completely, but the ones that persist may end up being the more expensive kind with a learning mode, which you'd have to do more work to program.
But, since most people won't want to take the time to do that, I'd expect this may mean that universal remotes will return to being more of a niche market, where geeks like me take the time to program them, but the majority of people don't bother to use them any more.
Odd that you cite Keynes and what he had to say about the financialization of everything turning the world into a casino, but you don’t discuss how it’s the policy he advocated for over the years that got us to where we are today