By Seth Weintraub
May 26, 2010

As one of GoogleTV’s premiere launch partners, Logitech finds itself the center of attention for the first time in its long history.

Logitech was founded in Switzerland in 1980 by two Standord alums, Daniel Borel and Pierluigi Zappacosta, and Giacomo Marini, a former manager at Olivetti. For the first part of its life, Logitech made mainly mice and then keyboards.

Logitech (LOGI) did this extremely well, better than anyone else in the world. In 2008, Logitech amazingly manufactured its one-billionth mouse.  But by that time, Logitech had expanded its business far beyond keyboards and mice building and had built and acquired companies that build peripherals for computers and portable devices.

Logitech can now be found at all corners of the computering world.  Wikipedia shows how far they’ve stretched:

But while Logitech operates at all corners of the PC industry, the company hasn’t yet commanded the central role of computing device (though technically the Squeezebox Internet radio streamer is a standalone device).  That all changed with the Google (GOOG) I/O announcement last week.

Logitech is one of two hardware makers that will build the GoogleTV; the other being electronics giant, Sony.

The GoogleTV is essentially a PC with an Intel chip inside.  It has HDMI and Gigabit Ethernet inputs and HDMI output.  The user will navigate the GoogleTV interface with something similar to what Logitech has produced since the 80’s, a keyboard and mouse.  Logitech will also make a camera for video conferencing on GoogleTV.

But, as was painfully demonstrated at Google’s I/O presentation, a traditional keyboard and mouse isn’t the best way to navigate a media center. New navigation devices will need to be invented if the platform is going to take off.

Logitech is uniquely qualified in this area and already builds media center-centric keyboards like the DiNovo Mini (pictured at right).  They’ve also pioneered smart remote controls in their Harmony line which act more like media-browsing keyboards than traditional remote controls.  Lenovo (LNVGY) also makes a keyboard like this.

As people who are used to touch typing on their mobile phones all day can attest, typing on a thumb-sized keyboard isn’t taboo anymore.  What is taboo is having a full-sized keyboard and mouse on your lap when you watch TV.

Ashish Arora, Logitech’s Manager for the Digital Home had this to say:

Logitech is committed to Google TV because it is an open platform and we love to innovate on open platforms – just like we did around the PC. And unlike in the PC space where we entered after the platform had been defined, this time we are working with Google to integrate key technology ingredients that will enable rich, new experiences. For example, our Harmony technology enables seamless integration between the Google TV experience and the Android smart phone. And our video calling expertise can now be brought from the PC screen to the TV screen. And that is just the beginning …

So, has Google picked a winner in a partner?  Only time will tell.  However, for those who don’t want to go out and buy a new BluRay Player or new HDTV, Logitech will be your only initial choice when buying a GoogleTV.  With its experience in the peripheral game, it looks initially like a good choice.

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