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Last week, I was at my ex-wife’s house and she needed help moving music from a PC to a Mac. I walked her through how to move an iTunes library and noted that she planned to move it through physical media. Like so many others these […]

sonosLast week, I was at my ex-wife’s house and she needed help moving music from a PC to a Mac. I walked her through how to move an iTunes library and noted that she planned to move it through physical media. Like so many others these days, she has a wireless network in the home, so it was just as easy to move the data over the air. She didn’t realize that her Mac and PC could talk to each other, which I suspect is also common — not to our tech-savvy regular readers, but the population at large.

The experience coincided nicely with Mike Wolf’s piece asking if Sonos will ever be the next big thing. Mike looks at why consumers aren’t adopting a streaming solution in the home and concludes two reasons: the economy and alternatives. I have no doubt the economy is holding back tech purchases for some. I also agree that consumers go for easy solutions like iPod docks instead of more elegant solutions like Sonos, which I love, by the way. You can see how much in this video.

I’d argue there’s a third reason.

I’m not picking on my ex-wife here, but I think that many consumers like her don’t realize you can leverage a wireless network for media. I know several folks who have installed a wireless network for one reason and one reason only: connecting computers to the Internet without using wires. That’s it. There are no shared files on the network, no streaming media, no shared printers, nothing. In fact, I’ve asked people about their network and they say, “what network?”

This is also why I see people rave about the cool, new picture sharing and music streaming features available with the very same Verizon FiOS service I have. It’s called “Media Manager” and requires you to have a DVR with the accompanying $19.95 monthly fee. The feature isn’t new, but it’s new to many people. They simply don’t understand that they have a network, nor do they realize the unlimited potential of one. I see this as the biggest challenge to media streaming vendors like Sonos, Cisco, Yamaha and others.

Once folks grasp some understanding about networks and media streaming, they’ll look for these types of hardware solutions. Taking it one step further, there’s a solid chance consumers will look beyond the home and find ways to stream their media from home to their handset or remote computers. My Windows Home Server efforts revolve around this exact same concept. Why should I limit what music my handset can hold due to physical storage capacity limitations? I can hold gobs of media at home and stream it all I want to wherever I am.

  1. Richard Garrett Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Okay, I confess. I am not one of your more tech savvy readers, though you are helping me become one. Can a MacBook, absent a WiFi connection to the internet, stream audio to a Sonos? The idea for me would be to be able to take both to a cabin in the woods, away from internet access and still be able to enjoy my music library. Thanks for the inspiration and answer!

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    1. Richard, the Sonos solution might not be best for the situation you’ve outlined. It requires and Internet connection for updates as well as some music services. You would need some type of ad-hoc solution in that case, and I don’t know of any off the top of my head. Could you just use some external speakers for your MacBook in the cabin or do you want to stream different music to different rooms?

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    2. apple airport express + itunes

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  2. Great Article.

    There is some much tech out there that people don’t know about. Sonos sounds like a great thing, but who has heard of it?

    I don’t think that prince is that much of an issue in the long term. Think how many people buy $4000 TVs when the economy is good.

    I think the issue is marketing.

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  3. Yes just the other day my (reasonably tech savy) brother was at my house using one of my notebooks and wanted to print something. So he came in the office where I was working… and I was like “oh did you get a print error?” And he was like “what do you mean… you can print over your wifi!!”

    “uh, yes.” (ok somewhat tech savy) ;)

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  4. So did you move her iTunes library from her pc to her mac wirelessly. I’m getting my first mac soon and that would be good info to know. I’ve seen where you can backup and export to DVD, or move via HDD and edit the library plst file in the mac. But if you have an easy wireless way, I’d like to know.
    Thanks.

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  5. can’t you just grab or dump all the mp3 files from one computer to another via a shared folder? you don’t need to stream and all that just to transfer some files.

    furthermore, i suspect most people just don’t care to do a lot of this. why stream when you have an iPod (or other) that you can just carry around and are familiar with? printing is usually pointless, i’d hope, but i realize a lot of people likely print their email or website for whatever stupid reason. most people buy dvds (or rent). if you have a dvd, it’s hardly worthwhile to rip it to a media center. just pop it in the dvd player.

    for people stuck using “physical” media, there seems little value to a network. i suspect that most people just don’t need it.

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  6. I just glanced at the article and have not read the responses- but – and I probably sound like “I work for sonos”! While it is a little on the expensive side it’s the coolest gadget I own and I own a lot of gadgets!

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  7. My server (built into my wireless router, as it happens) has an i-tunes music server built in also. Rip, Mix, Place on Server : ). It works pretty well, except that I have to have a PC to play the music out by the garden. I *could* get one of those little wifi radio things, but they are too expensive, considering I’ve got this fine over the air radio that pulls in two NPR channels, and has already been sprinkler soaked more times than I can count.

    What really burns me is that I already own a solution: The Sansa Connect. It has everything it needs, hardware wise. It will even stream internet radio. But, Sansa obsoleted it, and won’t allow users the ability to update to custom firmware via Rockbox. Sandisk really missed the boat on this one. They *could* have modified the firmware to allow streaming of Shoutcast stations, and just kept right on selling the things.

    Ok, that’s enough of a rant.

    Hans

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