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 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.