The Return of Atari


OK, so the title is a little misleading. Atari isn’t coming back into the gaming space. They aren’t releasing a new game console or new game titles. If you’re in the smart home or smart technology business, though, it’s a name that you’re going to start to hear a lot more often.

For those that don’t know, Atari OWNED video gaming back in the day. This classic video game company hit the gaming scene in the early 70s, and brought us the first ever video arcade game and home gaming console. While gaming advanced and more companies, like Nintendo, and later Xbox and PlayStation, got in on gaming, Atari simply couldn’t survive. The name, though, has survived, and that name is behind this latest news.

Atari recently announced that it is partnering with Sigfox, a French wireless networking company, to produce a new line of smart home devices. What this really means is that Atari is lending is popular (dare I say legendary), nostalgia-inducing name that has lived through the generations to some devices developed and manufactured by Sigfox; this is a licensing deal.

Is it weird for childhood and adulthood to be colliding like this? A little. But if you think about it, not really. Atari has been struggling for years, and they have attempted to reinvent their brand several times already. This is an opportunity for them to use their brand to find success in an emerging market. What good is a legendary brand name if you can’t make it work for you? Atari is in survival mode. By partnering with a tech company, they are hoping to have someone else be the product experts, while they drum up some old school support based on their name alone.

The partnership announcement detailed that the companies will begin working on new products this year, with no expected release dates. The bad news here is that Sigfox isn’t available in the US yet, so we won’t be able to get any Atari smart home products. I’m not sure that products would even make it in the US, since you would have to use the Sigfox network instead of the Internet. You can’t take the Internet out of the Internet of Things and expect success. So, until they expand, and reconsider their connectivity support, we’ll just talk to people in Europe to see how their Atari products are doing.
Since Sigfox isn’t as powerful as the Internet, the Atari products aren’t expected to be high-powered, always connected devices. The products that we can expect to see from this partnership are meant to be for the mass market, and hit the lifestyle, safety, and pet categories. There will be range of offerings, too, including simple products and products that offer more sophistication. The price point should be pretty low, also, at least starting prices for the simpler products.

What do you think about Atari’s latest reinvention attempt? Would you purchase an Atari-branded smart home product if it was available in the US? Or, hell, just leave me a comment about how much Atari was a part of your childhood – I’m down to reminisce.

Photo by: Kevin Savetz

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Jeff is a tinkerer. He loves gadgets, but usually waits until the reviews are out before buying something. He loves the DIY projects, and loves help setting things up too. Some of his favorite products and services may not be the most well known, but he loves his custom solution.