Geeks and Sonos, The Windows v. Mac Problem All Over Again

by Dave Hamilton in ,

It’s interesting how misunderstood Sonos is by us geeks. I say “us” because I was firmly in this “Sonos doesn’t make sense to me” camp right up until the day I wasn’t. Kind of like how some computer geeks used to be (and some still are) about the Mac. “It’s too easy.” “It looks cheap but costs too much.” “It doesn’t have a zillion settings that make me feel comfortable knowing I’m getting full geek value out of it.”

It seems we geeks truly have trouble grokking just how easy and profound Sonos is. I did. Again, like the Windows/Mac thing I think it’s because we geeks become very comfortable rolling our own solutions. We take pride in them. Lots of moving parts, any one of which can malfunction, but that’s OK: we assembled it ourselves and we know how to make it all work. Heck, I take enjoyment out of every aspect of that: creating it, using it, and troubleshooting it. It’s truly a hobby for me.

And if it’s just us geeks, then that’s perhaps OK. I had one of those solutions so that I could bounce my music to any room (ok, well, 2 rooms) in the house. And when I wanted it to work, by golly it worked. But no one else in the house wanted to use it. They could … they’re all really smart and fairly technically savvy. But they didn’t want to.

Truth be told, I didn’t want to, either. Especially as I began rolling that solution to even more rooms. It always seemed to require a computer to be on to make it work right. And the right software running. And always something to tweak.

Right about that time one of our Mac Geek Gab listeners bugged me again about Sonos. So I went down and met with them and … the rest is history. I’m a full-on Sonos kool-aid drinker now, and not only am I happier for it, but my family is happier. We finally listen to music again. Sonos makes it easy to make music social. The playlist is stored ON the Sonos system… not only does that mean it can easily be bounced to any room with the tap of a button on any device (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows) in our house, but it also means that ANY of those devices can add to or modify the playlist as it’s playing.

Because of Sonos, listening to music has again become that thing that a family — our family — can do together. For me that hasn't existed since the invention of the iPod.

I’ll leave you all with one last thing that impressed me about Sonos when I first met with them several years ago. One of their VPs said to me, “listen… you’re a geek… both a music geek and a computer geek. We understand that you grok how this stuff works. And we love that. But we don’t want your feature requests. However… if your family has any feature requests, please pass them along to me immediately.”

Seemed like a very Apple way to handle things. ;) I’m still amazed no one else is out there truly competing with them.

 (thanks to my friend, Kirk McElhearn, for inspiring this post, which I originally posted as a comment on his, "Sonos: I Just Don't Get It" blog post)