A few weeks ago I unplugged my 25-year old Technics stereo receiver and put it on the curb to "recycle" to whoever wanted it. I'd owned it since I was a teenager, and it went from being connected to a tape deck to a CD player to (in around 2003) an Airport Express to blast my iTunes collection throughout the house whenever I wanted.
Ever since seeing a Sonos system I knew I should upgrade my wireless music experience, and I've now made the switch. Instead of turning this into a Sonos review though, I' d rather talk about where I'd like to see the product go from here.
Review wise, I'll say this: I had my Sonos Bridge and Play:1 wireless speaker up and running with the Sonos controller software running on my Macbook Pro in under 10 minutes. The setup was flawless and the software is incredibly easy to use. It's not perfect, but it's pretty darn awesome. Within the first day I had installed the Sonos Controller on my Galaxy S4, my wife's iPhone 5c, our original iPad, a 5th Generation iPod Touch and my wife's iMac. There's a beauty about being able to grab literally any device in the house and control music from it.
I love music, and I think Sonos deserves an A+ for making awesome products. But I'd think there is still so much untapped potential. We are Connectedly, and it's our job to think about device interconnection. The way I see it, Sonos shouldn't just be about music about the broader category of sound. I'd love to have my Sonos system deeply involved in all of the sounds around my house.
The doorbell: It seems to me that the doorbell in our homes is ripe for the transformation into a connected device. Why do I need a separate sound unit to play a limited set of chimes when I've already got an amazing wireless speaker system? I'd like my Sonos speaker to play a sound when someone rings my doorbell. And if it's someone I know give me something personalized like,"CHIME … Adam is at the door!"
Home intercom: Anyone who has kids can relate to this one. I'd love to be able to tap on a "transmit" button within an app on my phone and have my voice broadcast to whatever speakers I deem necessary. No more shouting at your kids when dinner is ready.
Talk to me about other home automation devices: If a Nest thermostat has learned to change the temperature setting of your house at certain times, I think it would be great to have an audio indicator to go along with it … and it should play via Sonos. If I have door or window sensors that can be connected to a security system, I think it would be clever to have my Sonos speakers broadcast messages such as "Back door is unlocked".
Take over any audio at any time: I love to learn, so I listen to lots of audio books that I buy from Audible and play through my phone's app. I can't broadcast that audio to a Sonos system today. I listen to a lot of quarterly conference calls for technology stocks that I follow. I can't just tell my Mac to play the sound through the Sonos speaker I'll be keeping in my office, and then switch it to the kitchen when I feel like making a cup of coffee. I'd like to see Sonos allowable as an output for any audio from any device.
Realistically, I doubt Sonos can make all of this happen on its own. I think it would require either Google or Apple buying Sonos and then releasing a set of tools to developers to allow third party connected devices to interact with Sonos speakers.
My gut says Google should buy them. Google has already created Chromecast, and I think they could easily take the Sonos product and turn it into something that also supports Chromecast. But then again perhaps Sonos can partner with Google outside of a sale of the company to support Chromecast and allow third party developers to have their apps transmit via Sonos speakers.
What I'm describing is obviously possible from a technical standpoint. It's just not possible today given the state of standards and tools. Sonos is a proprietary system. But I think to be the most useful, Sonos needs to be a hybrid player. It needs to handle music via a proprietary and totally reliable wireless network in the house, while other functions could be handled by the home's existing Wi-Fi network.
I don't know what the best way forward is for Sonos. Maybe they need to be acquired by Google or Apple. Maybe they just need to establish a partnership. But one thing is for sure. Nothing as awesome as the Sonos wireless speaker system should be restricted the way it is today. It's restricted to whatever I can play through the Sonos controller software. I want that to change.