Ever since Logitech sold its first computer mouse in 1982, its brand has been deeply tied to accessories for PCs and other consumer-electronics devices. And though accessories have been good to Logitech and vice versa, the association has been so strong that it's sometimes been tough for the company to expand into other categories.
Lately, though, Logitech has been doing well with videoconferencing hardware. In the past year, it's sold 100,000 systems—a figure which, according to its own estimates, makes it the number-two player in the business, and puts it on pace to surpass the leader, Cisco, in terms of units sold. The company has found its niche with relatively inexpensive, plug-and-play devices which, rather than being linked to proprietary software, are compatible with Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, WebEx, and other widely used services for making video calls.
Its newest device, Logitech Group, is an upgrade to a previous model that went under the nerdier name of the Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e. With its $1,000 starting price tag and ability to capture meetings involving up to 10 people in a room—or 20 with a $1,249 version that includes extender microphones—Group represents the high end of the company's product line. (Logitech formerly owned Lifesize, a provider of even higher-end videoconferencing hardware and services aimed at corporate types, but spun it off last December.)
Group does 1080p HD video with 10x lossless zoom, a 90-degree viewing angle, and pan and tilt control. It has four omnidirectional microphones designed to pick up voices from up to 20 feet away (or 28 feet with the extender mikes). And it talks to video-calling services via a USB connection to a PC, Mac, or Chromebook.
Logitech being Logitech, I assumed that the customers snapping up its videoconferencing products tended to be small businesses—the sort which would be comfortable with the Logitech brand and which would never shell out truly big bucks for the sort of systems offered by Cisco and other companies higher up the enterprise-technology food chain. But Scott Wharton, Logitech's VP for video collaboration, told me that the company is also finding success selling its gear to larger companies. Instead of splurging on top-of-the-line systems for a handful of conference rooms, they're buying lower-cost Logitech hardware for as many rooms as possible.
With the new Group, Logitech is trying to make that proposition even more appealing. If the company really does take the top spot in the category, we'll know it's working.