We had a great chat with Logitech on their products and how they see the market evolving.
Antoine Preisig: VP General Manager Sales & Marketing EMEA Logitech
We have the opportunity to sit down with Antoine Preisig, Vice President, General Manager Sales and Marketing EMEA, Logitech. The following are exceprts from a conversation we had on the current line-up of Logitech products and how they see the future of input devices.
Logitech’s makes a range of products – how do you decide what comes to the Middle East and what doesn’t?
The PC has become a hub for consumers. In the beginning the PC was just for work productivity but now it has become a hub for managing pictures, sound and video as well as surfing lot on the web. We have been around for more than 20 years are now well established in a category consumers understand. If you are looking into the areas like streaming music, remote controls and other new areas we are looking into, often they are ahead of time and they need to be explained.
Explaining means to reach out to consumers. It means marketing; it means investments, and focusing on establishing new categories and to really build the category. So when we go into a new market, not just the Middle East, we try to bring the really established core categories first like our mice and keyboards, be successful in it and as we manage that well we go into new categories.
There are also some other angles to it, like you need to translate to Arabic for example, which could be complex and we need to make sure it is viable, and that means exactly what I said before- we need to really make sure we have invested enough ahead of launching a category properly. We had some painfully exercises when we launched products but did not communicate well enough with consumers which blocks the shelf of retail partners and in the end nobody is happy and you have to take them back.
You mention that your mice and keyboard are your primary devices in the region and I agree with that but with the notebook sales taking off, have keyboard sales been on the decline?
If I compare last year with this year, we actually grew our market for keyboards. If I compare the plans we have for this, we are also forecasting growth. But you are absolutely right- you see much more sales in portable PC and that’s why you need more accessories on the portable PC. So we have products like the cooling pads, the mobile mice that were not in our portfolio.
How is the gaming segment for you in this region? You have gaming keyboards and mice but do they sell in the region? Are they popular?
There is growth but I wouldn’t say the market is as mature as it is in the Europe. In fact, I would compare South Africa with here although South Africa is far ahead. But you see lots of shows coming in…in terms of gaming and all of them are giving us one indication. If you talk to them they see growth, they see people much more online and they see PC gaming growing. And we see that in the growth. But it is not yet, I would say, mature, in this region. It will represent growth but it is not a big part of the business.
Besides PC, you also do gaming peripherals for consoles like the guitar for Guitar Hero and a controller for the PS3 as well. How about that…how do you see that progressing ?
It’s a bit more complex what is happening around the console gaming. We have been successful mostly for the PS2 when we introduced our first controller and so we could get a lot of momentum. With the new generation of consoles from Nintendo, Xbox 360 and PS3 they have a closed ecosystem and they have locked the ecosystem, and so the only way for us to make products to have a collaboration and authorization with them which makes it a bit more challenging to some extent.
As a result of that you as a second supplier are not really competitive for an entry level controller with a platform that is locked. So, the only thing you can do and that’s what we have concentrated for the last 18 months is to really bring value added controller. So we have a strong focus on high-end steering wheels, high-end controllers, and high-end guitars- things that truly differentiate for gamers that want the best gaming devices.
Going forward as a company, we are very much focused on investing our energy into open ecosystems. Ecosystems like Google with Android, ecosystems like Intel and Microsoft, that do not protect the environment so we can fully play and engage.
Are you guys saying that you are going to come up with an Android based device?
I am not saying that…I am saying that we are interested to provide not devices but peripherals around open standards and if Android based devices call for any kind of peripherals, it will be looked very closely. The success of Logitech is not focused on the platform but focused on enriching the platform.
Moving forward, we see the way people interact with their devices change completely. I mean touch is started to come in, and with Microsoft doing Project Natal where we have cameras tracking you. It’s a complete breakaway method from the traditional keyboard or mouse kind of interface, how do you feel Logitech fitting into the next generation?
Technology is getting cross-platform and the world is organizing around it. That’s one big thing. If you look at the world, there are people who manipulate content and people who consume content, and what’s really interesting is that sometimes it is the same people that do both but there are people who never touched a PC but now they use smartphones or tablets- all of a sudden they are interested pictures, etc. What we are trying to do is understand exactly this.
More and more people are now accessing technology to access the content. And people want to be constantly connected though broadband and not just for information but they always want to be connected to their family and friends. It’s a whole new momentum that actually has exploded in the consumer base. What we are doing is organizing ourselves around it, for example the notebook, we have two or three applications in the structured space such as proper speakers, good webcam, docking station, good keyboard. And then we have the unstructured space- if you like to sit on the couch, have a lap desk with built-in speakers to watch a movie. Different consumers use the screens in different ways.
We are focusing on creating experiences, not specifically products, but experiences that immerses consumers into the content. It’s same around the living room screen, it’s same around computer screen and it’s the same around mobile screen. So the company is really at the turning point to moving away from the PC as the only platform to accessorize. To understanding this momentum and what the consumers we need…that’s what we are focusing on. This is the next challenge