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INTERVIEW: Logitech Will Focus On Tablet Computers In 2012

By John Revill Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES ZURICH -(Dow Jones)- Swiss technology company Logitech SA (LOGN.VX) will focus on computer tablet compatible technology next year to increase sales and offset any declines in its main computer mice and keyboard business. "We are embracing tablets, they are a great opportunity, it's additive and we are going after it," Chief Executive Gerald Quindlen told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview Thursday. He said there will be a tablet focus to Logitech's product launches in 2012, and 25% of its new retail products will be tablet friendly. Quindlen declined to reveal exactly what those products would be, saying some would be tablet specific while others could also be used with other types of computer and smart phones. Logitech traditionally spends between 6% and 7% of its revenue on research and development, a significant proportion of which is being invested in tablet products, Quindlen said. "Audio and keyboard peripherals are two obvious opportunities and we have others, there is plenty of room to add value to the tablet experience," Quindlen said. Analysts had previously voiced fears that Logitech could suffer declining sales from its pointer and keyboard business - which makes up around half of sales - due to the increased popularity of tablet computers like Apple Inc's (AAPL) iPad. Logitech is now developing products which are compatible with the iPad as well as with other platforms like Android. Quindlen is still confident about the future of the desktop PC business, which Logitech supplies with speakers and keyboards in the after market business as well as to computer manufacturers. "We still see growth in the PC category, particularly in emerging markets," Quindlen said, noting mouse sales in the U.S. had enjoyed a strong quarter. Overall revenues from sales of mice rose by 12% during the quarter, and the number of units sold rose by 23%, he added. "People have been predicting the death of the mouse for a long time, but that's not a view I agree with, far from it," Quindlen said. He was speaking after Logitech reported record sales during its crucial third quarter, with strong growth in Asia - which accounts for around 25% of its business - and at its LifeSize video conferencing business. Sales in the three months to Dec. 31 2010 beat expectations, rising 22% to $754 million, while net profit rose 14% to $65 million. As a result the company, which is based in Morges, Switzerland, increased its full year sales guidance to $2.4 billion-$2.42 billion, up from $2.35 billion-$2.4 billion. Quindlen said Logitech is now on course to achieve the higher end of these targets, including a record sales year for the company. It will also look to expand its footprint in China, which is one of the company's fastest growing markets. Google Inc's (GOOG) TV product, for which Logitech provides a revue set top box, will contribute around $40 million in sales this fiscal year which ends on March 31, Quindlen said. Quindlen said he had been slightly disappointed with the uptake in the U.S. but demand had picked up in the last few weeks before Christmas. "It is Google and our intention to expand into other markets, and Europe is the next major region. But it is not the top priority at the moment," he said. -By John Revill, Dow Jones Newswires; +41 43 443 8042 ;

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