Mighty Mouse Roars its Way to Milestone

Stretched end to end, they would circle the Earth 1.6 times. Stacked up, they would fill 48 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Gathered together, they would be heavy enough to sink the Titanic again.

It’s hard to believe what you could do with 500 million computer mice. And yet this week, as mouse manufacturer Logitech celebrated selling its 500 millionth mouse, these kind of mind games have been commonplace at the company’s Fremont, Calif., headquarters.

The milestone is indeed quite an accomplishment, fueled in part by an exploding market for input devices and the graphical user interface. To date, the company, which has been making mice since 1982, has sold more of the computer devices than any other single company. According to IDC, a Logitech mouse was shipped with 55 percent of the 900 million desktop personal computers that have been sold during that time.

“In celebrating the half-billion milestone, we’re still amazed by the impact of the mouse on our lives,” said Guerrino De Luca, Logitech’s president and CEO. “However small the device itself, [the mouse] represents years of engineering vision and innovation.”

In fact, the mouse may be one of the most pervasive devices today. A recent survey of 1,000 Internet users by Greenfield Online found that 63 percent of respondents spent more time holding their mouse than any other commonly held object, including cell phones, remote controls, steering wheels or PDAs. The same survey found that 26 percent of respondents felt the mouse was one of the most important devices in the computing experience, second only to the monitor.

Logitech currently manufactures an average of 270,000 mice daily and 6 million per month. The company first sold its mice as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to computer system manufacturers, introducing its first retail mouse in 1985. The company reached the 100-million mice mark in 1996, and took only seven more years to reach the half-billion plateau.

Roger Kay, vice president of client computing at IDC, attributed this exponential growth over the last few years to a surge in personal computer sales across the board.

“The mouse market grew up alongside computers as they became a part of our daily lives,” he said. “These days, it’s not unusual for consumers to upgrade their peripherals to get more life out of their existing PCs.”

These peripherals no longer center on traditional point-and-click mice; today, Logitech sells a variety of mice, keyboards, Web cams, multimedia speakers, headsets for mobile phones and PCs, gaming accessories, and digital pens. In its fiscal year 2003, which ended on March 31, Logitech surpassed $1.1 billion in annual revenue, sold more than 43 million branded products, and launched 91 new products.

Shares of Logitech closed Thursday at $30.70, down 80 cents.

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