How long will your Logitech Harmony remote keep working?

A few days ago, Logitech announced the end of its long line of Harmony universal remote in a rather informal forum post. The writing has been on the wall for some time; the last major release of Harmony was almost two years ago, and it was a costly dud. But it’s still a blow to a community of dedicated hi-fi users who have loved these gadgets for almost 20 years.

The end of the Harmony series might not come as a surprise, as the market has moved towards simpler Roku-style remotes and voice control, but it raises some crucial questions. Since remotes rely on software and services from Logitech to work with newer devices, and for some of the more advanced models, interacting with smart home technology, how long will it take before they work? at least some of their features stop working? How long will Logitech continue to support the line after it can no longer sell remotes?

According to the post that announced the end of Harmony hardware, Logitech has always been committed to supporting it. “There should be no impact with existing Harmony customers, we plan to continue to offer service and support,” says the Logitech representative, although they use a forum descriptor. Existing warranties will be honored and the FAQ states that the company “will continue to update Harmony desktop software and Harmony apps for Android / iOS”. The support team and documentation will remain in place. Compatible Harmony remotes will continue to work with Google Assistant / Home and Amazon Alexa.

But for how long? With a plea for business sincerity, Logitech says its goal “is to keep the service running for as long as customers are using it.”

Which means, given the dedication of many hardcore Harmony fans, forever. Even giving Logitech the benefit of the doubt that its service record may not necessarily deserve in recent years, it’s an impossible task. At some point in the future, hopefully at least several years away, the number of remaining Harmony users will be low enough that Logitech deems it necessary to stop spending money to keep its hardware running. Look no further than the Harmony Express, which lost virtually all of its functionality barely a year after its debut, for example.

Eventually at least some of the connected features of those remotes will stop working, for at least some of the people who still use them. Without wanting to sound like a nerdy Nostradamus, the news that Logitech’s Harmony servers will be shutting down on such and such a date is almost inevitable.

The best possible outcome here would be for Logitech to release its Harmony software as open source code, allowing the more passionate parts of its community to roll out their own software updates and enhancements. Logitech has used open source software in the past and maintains a wiki of its products that depend on it, but its global code repository appears to be down. As far as I know, Logitech has yet to release source code for any of its discontinued products. With Harmony software still presumably valuable in an ethereal corporate sense, the chances of this happening seem very slim.