Armchair product management for Sonos

by Volker Weber


Let me sit back in my armchair* and throw some ideas out.

I am sure I will think of other stuff.

*) For those who do not understand the reference, an armchair quarterback pretends he knows better than the actual quarterback on the field. Ideas are cheap. Execution is hard.

Update: I'm sometimes hard to understand. In case you did not get the message: I am not spilling any Sonos secrets. These are my thoughts. I did not even speak with any of the Sonos product managers. I did let senior management know my thoughts, but of course they could not comment on them.


Halleluja on the WUA - the universal app for Windows 10 (plus mobile). Please, Sonos, please. I will be forever grateful 👍

Hubert Stettner, 2015-12-15

Would love Play :Mobile.

I would also liked to have "Line in" on all products, and use that without WIFI.

Nils Halvorsen, 2015-12-15

I would be a big big fan of PLAY:Cast. That is one thing i really need at my workplace. Best would be if it would allow mixing with the current playing stream. E.g. if i wanted to get my Mac notifications on the Sonos in my office.

Dirk Steins, 2015-12-15

Playbar:next sounds very tempting. with the appletv making up 90% of my viewing time, this is what would finally make me get a playbar

Axel Borschbach, 2015-12-15

Agreed - Playbar with HDMI switch would be a welcome sight (and sound)! Would eliminate the workaround most have been using to get 5.1 out of HDMI and into a Toslink required by current setup.

Hmm for the portable Sonos maybe a rechargeable unit and dock setup would handle the portability of this speaker.

Leo Wiggins, 2015-12-15

Exactly. Replace the power supply in a PLAY:1 with a battery and put the unit on a dock.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-15

Volker, you obviously have their ear, but they would be wise to put you on their payroll, or maybe they have ;).

- Windows Universal App is a must. The desktop app feels clunky.

- A mobile, battery powered, outdoor unit would be awesome.

- More inputs (especially HDMI) in more places, not just TV, would get used.

- Black/White of everything would also be good. I'm partial to black anyways, but I think more colors in everything would be awesome, even red, blue, or orange. If they didn't want to do that, maybe skin kits for white units, that could change them?

- Being able to use the Sonos system on native PC speakers and on my iPhone headphones would also be nice. Obviously it wouldn't sound as good, but Sonos is my music system. I would like to control and play my music through their system on whatever connected device I'm using. When I get home, it sounds better.

- Somehow I want to use this system in my Car. I'm not sure what that looks like, but who cares about Bose car speakers now?

Reid Partlow, 2015-12-15

It would also be great if there would be a way to cloudsynchronize my Sonos favorites at home with my Sonos favorites at work. (or is there already a way to do this today?)

Kristian Raue, 2015-12-15

Ok, here is my favorite request - I have had it for a long time. It would be great for families with kids that can not yet read.

Graphical Multi-User UI

1. Choose your character on the remote control (Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter)
2. Display your character's favorite choices with Icons (Kids Music, Kids audio drama etc.)

That UI would be much more like the iOS. No reading required

Felix Binsack, 2015-12-15

if I had the sonos ear, I would want them to go after both the mid market home theater and the computer audio - both of which games plays a big deal. it could be a console game or something on my computer. but I would love to use sonos play1's on either side my monitor as music. no wires. and replace pretty much every home theater - outside the super high end stuff. give us Dolby Digital with a blueray and the netflix and vudu hdx offerings. give me a playbar that uses hdmi to do true digital audio and connect 1, 2, 3 or 5 more speakers.

"Bonus points for making it splash proof" - I assume you mean just water resistent vs. water proof here. meaning you could take it outside and spill on it, but its not an outdoor all the time speaker.

John Head, 2015-12-15

Reid, they did not put me on the payroll. Using Sonos in your car, on your PC speakers, those things are clearly outside their mission. That's the magic. Don't go after revenue, instead stick to your guns.

Kristian, no, you cannot sync two households.

Felix, that is going to work through a platform. You would be able to build your own controller without the need for uPnP sniffing. Then you could build your favorite kid's controller and sell it to all those other parents who need this.

John, PC audio is part of my PLAY:cast proposition. Play anything on your Sonos speaker. I am not convinced that Playbar would benefit from those elaborate setups. I'd rather go after the large unserved market of people using their crappy TV speakers. That is a bigger opportunity than people who build out around their surround receivers.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-15

What about a Sonos earphone (wireless, of course)? One that has full Sonos capabilities _and_ can receive the line-in from another Sonos player, eg the Soundbar. I would buy that instantly, actually I think my wife would even buy that instantly for me to get rid of the "noise".

Kai Stukenbrock, 2015-12-16

+1 for the headphone (support) - at least when I'm at home I want to stay in one app for my music.

Stefan Hempel, 2015-12-16

The app is not a player. It has no music to send to headphones. And making a player as headphones is not feasible. Nor interesting, because it can't leave the house.

If you want to listen to headphones through Sonos this is already possible. The gen 1 PLAY:5 has headphones out. Plug your headsets in, or a Bluetooth transmitter. You would also be able to drive a Bluetooth transmitter from the line-out of a CONNECT player. It's already there without the need for a separate product.

Product management largely consists of saying "no" to most requests. Case in point: the 2nd gen PLAY:5 no longer has a headphone jack. Nobody was using it on the 1st gen.

Failing to say no will turn any software product into Lotus Notes, no matter where you started. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2015-12-16

Oh, I always thought there was only a line-in in the PLAY:5 ... Sonos saw in the user-statistics that it was not used? OK, then it's only Kai and me. E.g. I would soo use it at this moment if there would be a line-out in the PLAY:1 currently playing on my desk. But just for headphone support I won't buy a CONNECT and in the location where I would put a PLAY:5 I would only seldomly want to use the headphones. :-(

(At least I'm OK with the product management keep saying "no" to invest in developing a WUA. ;-) )

Stefan Hempel, 2015-12-17

Now you see the problem: you have to build stuff that people pay good money for. You want the WUA for free. And the headphone support. Would you build a WUA, if Sonos gave you the tools?

Volker Weber, 2015-12-17

Regarding "Multiroom/single user": when will the music follow my phone by playing in the zone where it is closest? That would be a nice feature, but I'm afraid you would need quite a lot of PLAY:s to make a good guess of the location.

Stefan Hempel, 2015-12-17

It's more complicated than you think. Would you always want the music to follow you? What if there is a second person in the room? How would you know that a person moved into another room? By the location of his phone? What if he uses an iPad and an iPhone?

There is a need to keep stuff simple. You cannot add options. Options always mean you chickened out on decisions.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-17

Maybe I should explain how to do this today:

- Open Sonos controller
- Go into the Rooms overview
- Tap Group on your current room
- Select the new room, unselect the old room
- Tap Done

The music goes from the old to the new room.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-17

Of course an open delvelopment platform would be nice, to control ones SONOS system at home (e.g. connect it to your home automation system). But I don't have the need for a WUA, more for a "LUA". :-)
But adding a PLAY:1s (+$50) with a line-out and using the already available software to handle the line-out - I don't see that there would be so much additional support needed by SONOS. They could remove the PLAY:3 from the lineup to keep the number of products low. But if nobody used the line-out in the PLAY:5, then of course it doesn't makes sense ...

Stefan Hempel, 2015-12-17

I know how this works today, but keeping the phone in the pocket would be cool feature. Each zone could fade-in and -out ... OK, I stop now.

Stefan Hempel, 2015-12-17

Good. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2015-12-17

Volker - I am not saying going after the home theater space. but - if you gave me true dolby digital and thx via hdmi, in most homes, you could replace every tv speaker system except the high end home theater set - if they have it - with a playbar. but let me add a sub and 2 play 5s and 2 play 1s for true 5.1. that would be amazing. and after they get the high end audio into the playbar, the rest should be simple software config. the audio already transmits discrete 5.1 over HDMI. Sonos just has to process it and distribute it to the speakers.

pc audio would be amazing. i don't know how that works with good audio cards like soundblaster but i'd so much rather have play1s next to my montior. or a mini playbar :)

John Head, 2015-12-17

To add to Stefan's idea, my idea of how "proximity" should work is that when you open the app, it would suggest you the speaker / room closest to you instead of making you go through a potentially long list of rooms :-) via BLE for example

Gonzague Dambricourt, 2015-12-17

You are jumping ahead of yourself. There is no need to narrow this down to a technology not at your disposal. None of the products has BLE. You have to get back to the idea, not the solution. Do you always want the music to follow you? Switch of TV audio and transfer it to the bathroom, when you leave the room?

Volker Weber, 2015-12-17

Most "silly" ideas can already be done with FHEM (OSS home automation platform) if you're able to glue some perl scripts together ;-)

How it works:
FHEM can fully control SONOS components via web requests.
FHEM does geofencing - it knows in which room you are
(multiple factors, e.g. Bluetooth presence which can be improved with some raspberrys if you have rooms where no sensors can detect you. Sorry the link is only german:

Therefore FHEM can fade out the music in the room you've just left or regroup all players if you're not alone any more.

Most people use it for voice output and to switch easily between different group setups (e.g. bedroom and bath in the morning then bath and kitchen followed by kitchen and office).

Felix request would be easy as well: the kid gets it's own FHEM (web) page with just Sonos controllers showing thumbnails of favorites and radio stations.

Sonos does not have to give up on simplicity - it just has to be more "open" and embrace clever people putting their products in new use cases...

Ralf ter Veer, 2015-12-17

Ralf, exactly! That is what I mean with platform play.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-17

And i want a new Sonos Player:
- take a Playbar
- throw out the three center speakers
- shrink it from 90cm to, let's say, 55cm (or 60cm)
- add an analog audio in (as an addition to the exisiting toslink input)
And voilà: it's a Stereo (2.0) Playbar for the PC

As long as it is not possible to send PC sound wireless to the Sonos Player (+1 for Play:Cast), a cable would be fine. And i would prefer a speaker bar over a pair of Play:1 for the PC.

Manfred Wiktorin, 2016-01-02

Something like Play:Cast (to pick up that name) would be seriously high on my list. When I play a nice game on my laptop (Macbook Pro, strategy game) I really would love this so much. I remember Volker mentioning synching the audio in some aspect when this was brought up maybe 2-3 years ago by myself or someone else.
Well, Apple does it, do they not? Also Google/ Chromecast etc can do that. Not sure what would be possible, but this feature would seriously be the highest on my list, after the other topic Volker does not want to hear about anymore (and that is fine). :-)
Would be nice, play a game, listen to the sound on the Play:3 or Play:1's.

Alexander Koch, 2016-01-02

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