December 3, 2008

Logitech Celebrates 1 Billionth Mouse Made

The Silicon Valley-based Logitech has set a major landmark with the production of their one-billionth computer mouse. The celebration comes at a time when analysts claim the days of the mouse are numbered.

Logitech's general manager Rory Dooley said it's rare in human history that one company ships a billionth of anything.

"Look at any other industry and it has never happened. This is a significant milestone," he said.

However, Gartner analyst Steve Prentice claims that in three to five years the mouse will no longer be mainstream, despite acknowledging that the manufacture of the one-billionth mouse was a "tremendous achievement."

"It speaks volumes to the success of the mouse that they (Logitech) have produced a billion and good luck. But past performance is not a guarantee of future success.

"The world has changed and the nature of machines has changed. The multi-touch interface I believe really does seal the coffin of the mouse," Prentice added.

He believes new technologies will involve facial and movement recognition for the mainstream market, making the computer mouse obsolete.

But Dooley suggests the new technologies will have a place alongside the computer mouse and that it does not have to be an either or situation for users.

"The fundamental functionality of the mouse has not changed for 40 years and that is one of the keys to its success. We do not envisage unlearning all those years of learning but that doesn't mean to say there will not be a place for touch interfaces.

"Touch will augment the things you can do today with the mouse and keyboard interface," he added.

Newer Laptops and notebooks use a touch pad and are increasingly taking the place of the desktop computer. Apple's iPhone and Nintendo's Wii game have introduced a new generation to the world of touch screens and movement sensors.

Hewlett-Packard has introduced the mouse-less TouchSmart PC while Microsoft has invested heavily in 'surface' computers that react to gestures and touch.

Still, Dooley suggests that talk of the death of the mouse is only hyperbole.

"The reality is it's always easy for people to drum up interest in a story by making an extreme statement. And in the story of the "mouse is dead" campaign by Bill Gates a few months ago, that was started to drum up interest in Windows 7, the next version of the operating system."

"The challenge with these new technologies is going to be will you touch a screen that is two feet away from you a thousand times a day? Is touch accurate enough to let you get into the cell of a spreadsheet.

"Those are just some simple questions we believe will not necessarily be answered by the touch interface of tomorrow, " Dooley said.

However, Prentice strongly disagreed and believes that the pace of progress cannot be denied.

"Just look forward five years and computer screens will be built into the walls of our homes and that would make it difficult to drive with a mouse. That's where all the new technology like multi touch and facial recognition comes in. This is where the computer stops being a computer and becomes part of a building.

"Push things back 30 years and we would never had said we'd sit in front of a computer or that computers would hold all our music when everyone bought gramophones. Computers are not just computers anymore, they are part of our lives," Prentice added.

As part of the fanfare around Logitech's one-billionth mouse, the company has launched a global competition to find the mouse with a reward of $1000 of Logitech products going to the winner. Clues as to its whereabouts will be posted on the company's blog.

The computer mouse will achieve a milestone of its own next week when it turns 40.

Douglas C. Engelbart and his group of researchers at Stanford University tested the first computer mouse on December 9, 1968.


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