Spotify Connect, serious competition



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As for the other suggestions, Sonos execs in the past have ruled out Video and Car audio as not being something they're interested in.
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I would honestly be happy enough if Spotify added their upcoming "Collection" feature into the API so that Sonos can get it. I don't really care about the Discover or Follow to show up on there, I have the mobile and desktop apps for that.

Radio isn't a huge loss for me. I don't think Spotify's algorithms are very good at all and I rarely use it on mobile/desktop. If I want "Radio" I'll just use Songza or 8tracks, which are much better.
I don't understand why so many pundits are simply waiting for SONOS to be devoured by a "big fish". If this happens, the SONOS technology will likely be buried because it is so disruptive. Really, in this market space SONOS is the gorilla and the gorilla is growing.

While I think that Qualcomm's bid is an offensive move to sell their hardware, I think that the other moves are defensive. The music services want more control of the user interface, probably with the option of adding advertisements or the opportunity to "buy now" at some point. Traditional manufacturers are trying to maintain their business model, but this is becoming more difficult because they are mostly hardware oriented and each new feature addition likely involves designing in some hardware, such as a Qualcomm or Apple chip. In my opinion this will not work well because the manufacturers' design cycles and the consumer purchase cycles are too long. Receiver purchases are done on a five to ten (and more) year cycle. Of course, a series of "dongles" could be offered to support services, but this is expensive and has not been wildly successful to date. A major driving force for current receiver purchases is the analog sundown for video connections. An interesting development would be an industry standard dongle interface, but I doubt that this can happen. We are now decades into IR technology, there is still no unifying standard, and customers suffer because of this.

Pricing? In spite of those who visualize SONOS as an expensive computer accessory, SONOS is a very aggressively priced whole home audio system. Unless someone is willing to take a big risk that they can achieve economy of scale much higher than SONOS has achieved (significantly driving down costs), I don't think that directly competing with SONOS is very attractive for established companies. As a startup, SONOS made a huge, risky bet that they could eventually achieve economy of scale to support their pricing. In my opinion only a startup can do this because the big guys are too worried about career and the next quarterly report.

I don't know exactly what features the Qualcomm chipset offers, but this could lower risk for entrants and established companies.
IMO Sonos could partially head off any threat from this sort of thing by releasing a library for the main Smartphone platforms that allowed third-party apps to easily push content to Sonos.

Of course, Spotify may not adopt it, but others will which will dilute any benefits of the Spotify platform.

Personally, I try to avoid anything which is locked into a single service ecosystem. Apple and (perhaps) Google have the branding to convince people to put all their eggs in their particular basket, but I'm not convinced Spotify do.

Cheers,

Keith
A standalone Line-In module has been quite a popular topic in Sound Ideas. Extending that concept to include S/PDIF input and (optionally) an inbuilt Airplay/Spotify Connect/Qualcomm chip with the stream being delivered via SonosNet would be conceivable. A bit like a Dock (RIP), and perhaps at a similar price point. Maybe it could even sport an HDMI for Google Chromecast.
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I like that idea, although I am not sure I would use something like that enough to justify getting one.

Furthermore:

You could also use Spotify Connect if you hooked up an iPod Touch to a line-in on a Sonos unit.

Although, I am not sure if Spotify Connect will be able to "wake up" a sleeping iPod Touch with sleeping Spotify app. That remains to be seen.

Either way, after my initial displeasure with this, I'm really not that worried and feel 100% safe in my investment in Sonos products. You just can't beat it.
A standalone Line-In module has been quite a popular topic in Sound Ideas. Extending that concept to include S/PDIF input and (optionally) an inbuilt Airplay/Spotify Connect/Qualcomm chip with the stream being delivered via SonosNet would be conceivable. A bit like a Dock (RIP), and perhaps at a similar price point. Maybe it could even sport an HDMI for Google Chromecast.

This would be ideal, but I don't know how eager Apple/Spotify/Qualcomm are going to be to allow one license to stream to up to 32 unlicensed players. I assume their business plan is exclusive contracts with certain partners in order to drive repacement sales due to a "must have" checkmark. Allowing a single license to wipe out the (theoretical) sale of up to 32 licensed devices may not be in their plan.

Let's face it, incomparable to the full Sonos experience as they are, every press release for Airplay/Spotify Connect/Quallcomm/etc. includes commentary which mentions them as a Sonos alternative. If those companies planned to allow Sonos to incorporate their new tech on the cheap, they (and/or the fawning audio press) wouldn't be emphasizing their similarities to Sonos.

I agree with buzz that Sonos is the gorilla, and that these moves are more about defending a brand rather than aiming at Sonos' heart. However, I also feel they don't want to do Sonos any favors given Sonos' superior product, and the Spotify head of hardware partnerships' spontaneous utterance (and subsequent backtracking) is proof. Certainly there is a level of hostility towards Sonos at the global hardware partnerships level, that cannot be denied.
This would be ideal, but I don't know how eager Apple/Spotify/Qualcomm are going to be to allow one license to stream to up to 32 unlicensed players. I assume their business plan is exclusive contracts with certain partners in order to drive repacement sales due to a "must have" checkmark. Allowing a single license to wipe out the (theoretical) sale of up to 32 licensed devices may not be in their plan.
It's going to happen anyway if someone with a budget Apple/Spotify/Qualcomm-enabled receiver hooks it up to a Sonos Line-In. Why not at least make for easy digital (S/PDIF) transfer into Sonos multi-room. Many receivers will output S/PDIF. Sure, one can front a Playbar with an S/PDIF switch already, but it implies some constraints (the source must play on Playbar as "TV", albeit muted) ... and you need a Playbar.
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Excellent. Let me know what you think - I've never used it on Sonos. And I'm curious to what you think of how it sounds as well. I've also always wondered if it streams gapless on Sonos because I know it doesn't on web/desktop/mobile.

unfortunately my early eagerness over Rdio has come to an abrupt end :-(
I spend approx 2 hours a day commuting by car. I have an unlimited data contract on my iphone so have Spotify playing continuously via bluetooth during that time, normally with Spotify Radio so I can find new music or old music Ive not heard in a while.

Sadly the Rdio app falls well short of Spotify's when 'on the go'. Even on the lowest quality setting, songs take ages to buffer but I have no issues, even at high quality, on Spotify. I am therefore left with pauses during playback either at the end of a song or worse still during it. Secondly the bluetooth output is very unreliable - sometimes, and for no apparent reason, the sound just drops out though the song continues to play as shown on the progress bar. Switching from blutooth to iphone and its still silence. only way to get it going again is to kill the app and restart it. Obviously this is not what you want to be doing whilst trying to drive ! Again, no such issues with Spotify's Iphone app.

So despite the improved features on Sonos I cant continue with Rdio due to its poor mobile app compared to Spotify.

Any other music service suggestions in the UK or do I have to stick with Spotify and hope for the best ?
Any other music service suggestions in the UK or do I have to stick with Spotify and hope for the best ?
You could have a go with Deezer. It has a 15-day Premium+ free eval period.
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unfortunately my early eagerness over Rdio has come to an abrupt end :-(
I spend approx 2 hours a day commuting by car. I have an unlimited data contract on my iphone so have Spotify playing continuously via bluetooth during that time, normally with Spotify Radio so I can find new music or old music Ive not heard in a while.

Sadly the Rdio app falls well short of Spotify's when 'on the go'. Even on the lowest quality setting, songs take ages to buffer but I have no issues, even at high quality, on Spotify. I am therefore left with pauses during playback either at the end of a song or worse still during it. Secondly the bluetooth output is very unreliable - sometimes, and for no apparent reason, the sound just drops out though the song continues to play as shown on the progress bar. Switching from blutooth to iphone and its still silence. only way to get it going again is to kill the app and restart it. Obviously this is not what you want to be doing whilst trying to drive ! Again, no such issues with Spotify's Iphone app.

So despite the improved features on Sonos I cant continue with Rdio due to its poor mobile app compared to Spotify.

Any other music service suggestions in the UK or do I have to stick with Spotify and hope for the best ?


Sounds like you had the same experience I did a while back when I tried out Rdio for a few months (didn't have Sonos at the time). I was hoping the mobile streaming improved, but it doesn't sound like it. Spotify never buffers for me - I think their streaming tech is significantly more robust. Also, I think it helps that the Spotify mobile apps cache songs.

Honestly I would just stick with Spotify for now and see how it goes. The nice thing about these services are we pay month-to-month, so it is very easy to get out.
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ok, so its in Italian but here is the first commercially available implementation of Spotify Connect:

http://www.dday.it/redazione/10483/Spotify-Connect-arriva-su-Philips-Fidelio-.html

Philips announced yesterday that he was the first partner of Spotify to implement the new technology and it did not on new products but with firmware update existing range of products

I think its a real shame that what would be clearly possible in Sonos (via firmware) is not being permitted.

Although Phillips wireless speakers used to use something called 'AirStudio' - makes me wonder if Spotify bought the technology and relabelled it 'Spotify Connect' which is why they were able to make this work via a firmware update since the appropriate chip is already inside ? if so, this wouldnt help with Sonos.
If Sonos get more competition in the entry level / low end of the market from Spotify this may force them to become even more competitive? Reducing prices and adding functionality.... i.e. a drop in their entry level product (play3) and maybe reducing their value priced products (i..e the Connect, which should cost less than a play3 to manufacture). Or maybe even consider moving into the music service territory to take on Spotify directly? I know they have had competition before but it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Does anyone know how many customers Sonos has? I think read that Spotify has about 30M subscribers, of which 8M are paying for the premium experience.
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If Sonos get more competition in the entry level / low end of the market from Spotify this may force them to become even more competitive? Reducing prices and adding functionality.... i.e. a drop in their entry level product (play3) and maybe reducing their value priced products (i..e the Connect, which should cost less than a play3 to manufacture).

You mean reduce their profit to almost nothing (it's unlikely they're making much more than 10% now).

Or maybe even consider moving into the music service territory to take on Spotify directly?


Are you nuts? Spotify have been doing this for nearly 5 years and have yet to make a profit (lost more money in the last 12 months than the previous year and we're talking >$50M losses every year I think), and they're the most successful of these services, how do you think Sonos could ever compete with that starting from scratch? They'd have to be insane to even contemplate it.
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I just quit my spotify subscription a couple of days ago, so am not worried about this.

I might just be lucky to live in Denmark, but my internet provider also has a streaming service, as do most here. And it has full integration to Sonos! Have been waiting for ages for the spotify radio to be available for sonos, but since that it was already available with yousee it was bye bye spotify!

Not sure if all countries internet providers provide streaming like they do here, but if they do I'd suggest that sonos focus on these instead of worrying about spotify.
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To be honest, if i wasn't already a Sonos owner i would no longer buy Sonos gear due to these developements. The one thing that Sonos isn't very good at is creating a decent user interface, the rest i have no complaints about. Any company can stream music, but in today's market the added functions / apps / radiostations just make the difference. And Sonos can't seem to integrate these, at least not in a user friendly way.

Due to the absence of radio i also ended my Spotify account and switched to Deezer. The integration of Deezer is just slightly better, so it annoys the hell out of me that i can't use all the nice features Deezer has to offeron my Sonos system. Lately i see myself more often picking up a decent pair of headphones in stead of my Sonos system to listen some music, simply to use these features from the deezer web app.

Sonos really needs to convince users that they are able to integrate music services (web 2.0 style) in the near future. If not i think Sonos is going to lose this battle, at least for me.
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To be honest, if i wasn't already a Sonos owner i would no longer buy Sonos gear due to these developements. The one thing that Sonos isn't very good at is creating a decent user interface, the rest i have no complaints about. Any company can stream music, but in today's market the added functions / apps / radiostations just make the difference. And Sonos can't seem to integrate these, at least not in a user friendly way.

Due to the absence of radio i also ended my Spotify account and switched to Deezer. The integration of Deezer is just slightly better, so it annoys the hell out of me that i can't use all the nice features Deezer has to offeron my Sonos system. Lately i see myself more often picking up a decent pair of headphones in stead of my Sonos system to listen some music, simply to use these features from the deezer web app.

Sonos really needs to convince users that they are able to integrate music services (web 2.0 style) in the near future. If not i think Sonos is going to lose this battle, at least for me.


I mostly agree with this. In fact, after years of evangelizing Sonos to anyone who would listen I would now advise them to wait and see how Spotify connect shakes out. I can use the much superior app for Spotify and others through AirPlay but that is spotty and inconsistent. If Sonos would implement Spotify Connect, they would have something much better than these standalone speakers.

If they can't or won't, they should hope Spotify Connect doesn't take off like it seems it should.
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To be honest, if i wasn't already a Sonos owner i would no longer buy Sonos gear due to these developements.

Interesting. As a very recent owner (last weekend I purchased my first Connect and Bridge) Spotify, did not feature at all in my decision making process, having 10k songs in FLAC on a Synology NAS and a desire to simultaneously stream to multiple rooms, ruling out most other solutions.

That said, a weekend of teh Spotify trial has opened my mind...wow. And led to the inevitable question as to how I could get Spotify app functionality through Sonos app...and then led me to this thread to be disappointed! Even after a weekend, life without Sonos+Spotify would not be good.

So, I'm not sure I agree with you on this, as I think Spotify is just one aspect of a very good product.

Am I right in saying though that it is probably the case that Spotify would continue to be offered in the Sonos app, just that Spotify Connect/Radio etc would not integrate with Sonos? i.e we will retain what we have but no more?
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I don't know what all the fuss is about. I have not tried spotify since its not available here in Canada but everything I gave read comparison wise, indicate RDIO blows spotify and and ALL the others away when it comes to the interface features and usability. And, the actual app itself has many more fearures than going thru the Sonos app. Many on the RDIO help site are continuously stating how they switched over from spotify because of the first rate interface and features. Not sure about the bitrate comparison or size of songs catalogue but most claim that cannot tell a difference.
As for the buffering mentioned, I haven't experienced this. Maybe that was a temporary bug in the app which gas been fixed as they do continuously update the app almost monthly.
thedarkone,

First post! Welcome to the forums.

SONOS integration is a cooperative effort between the services and SONOS. As far as we know, SONOS does charge or receive any fees for the integration. Early on, SONOS was hand coding each service, but with dozens of potential services this effort would ultimately bury SONOS in details. SONOS turned this around and now offers a free API (Application Programing Interface) to services. Any service supporting this API can be included in SONOS in a blink.

If the music services choose not to support a feature of the SONOS API or withdraw support completely, SONOS does not have any leverage. The service would make the decision based on its business model.

Also, there is another agent -- the copyright holder. Each track is separately licensed for play in specific geographic areas, and for play on each device. Things can become strange because some tracks are authorized for play on radio like services where the listener cannot call up a given track, but the tracks are not authorized for track by track play. This means, for example, that one can listen to occasional Beatles tracks on a rock radio service, but the listener cannot call up a particular track. Whole artist libraries can appear or disappear overnight. Or, a given album might include eleven tracks, but only ten are licensed for online play.

For me, the services are more or less the interchangeable. If one service becomes a problem, I'll fix that problem at the end of the current billing cycle.

Bottom line: as users we can vote with our credit cards, but we don't have any real control. I don't recommend purchasing SONOS or any other player predicated on the availability of a particular service or feature.
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I wish sonos was "source agnostic" like the excellent Tomahawk player (tomahawk-player.org/). That way when you search for music or build playlists sonos would search your local music library and whatever other sources of music you have (Spotify for example) seamlessly without the user having to jump between sources and search each one. Then it would not matter as much if you lose a source (like spotify), you can jump to another one without all your playlist going to hell.
Too bad it requires a conceptual change, it will never happen...
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It's somewhat interesting to me that I have been reading these forums for what must be almost 10 years now (I lost my first Sonos system in a divorce 7 years ago so it must be pushing that long...) and this is the first topic that has gotten me to actually post.

I've recently become quite a fan of Spotify. I am also Canadian and never bothered to figure out how to get it here. I'd try Rdio from time to time and was completely underwhelmed. I can assure you to some users the services are NOT interchangeable. I used to read the same thing about Rdio being maybe better. For me, the services aren't even close -- but others may have different needs.

Today is the first time I wonder how Sonos will fit into my future needs. Sonos is one place I listen to music. The car is another huge one for me. And the office at work. For me, Sonos is competing not just as a way to listen to music at home, but as a way to integrate into my overall music listening experience.

Spotify seems to be slowly winning this battle. It is getting full-on app access in many new cars. In fact, this will be a critical factor for me when I next buy a new car in a couple years. None of the other services are having the same kind of success.

It's easy to dismiss this threat and say, I'll just switch to Rdio. For some of you, that will work. But I suspect the number of people loyal to their services is MUCH higher than the number loyal to Sonos. And Spotify seems to be winning this battle today.

So I guess in the end, I hope they are able to do something with Spotify Connect. It would make me very happy. If they don't, it would be time for me to look at some new hardware. Cheaper than a new car!

The one thing that gives me great confidence is over the years I have found most of Sonos decisions to be quite forward thinking and proven mostly right in the long run. I am sure they recognize the changing environment they are working in, and I suspect they will find a way to give us access to the native apps of some services. (Hopefully Spotify)
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I couldnt agree more.

In the UK we dont have the range of music services elsewhere. I tried Rdio as an alternative and, although the Sonos experience was better from a feature point of view, the mobile app was awful. I use the mobile app 2 hours per day in my car and Rdio's app crashes, goes silent and takes ages to buffer. I have none of these issues on the Spotify app so I have to stick with them.

Its funny how I build/extend my playlists in the car using Spotify Radio but at home on Sonos I only listen to albums and playlists I already know - I never explore new music via Sonos because the app just isnt up to it and too cumbersome.

Like you, I feel that the Sonos hardware is fantastic but the software side of it is falling behind. The trend is more towards subscription based music streaming and less about music ownership with gigabits worth of CDs stored somewhere. Unless the Sonos app keeps up with the increasing features provided by the native music service apps I fear that it will get left behind.

Same like the Playbar/DTS issue. Before long there will be TVs and film services that broadcast in DTS (remember that direct Blueray connection to a Playbar isnt a supported configuration - now you know why). Sonos decided not to bother incorporating DTS into the playbar and remain almost silent on the subject several months later - what were they thinking ?!
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Its funny how I build/extend my playlists in the car using Spotify Radio but at home on Sonos I only listen to albums and playlists I already know - I never explore new music via Sonos because the app just isnt up to it and too cumbersome.

Like you, I feel that the Sonos hardware is fantastic but the software side of it is falling behind. The trend is more towards subscription based music streaming and less about music ownership with gigabits worth of CDs stored somewhere. Unless the Sonos app keeps up with the increasing features provided by the native music service apps I fear that it will get left behind.
?!

There may be an obvious (to everyone but me) reason that this is a bad idea (fidelity?), but... Wouldn't it make sense for Sonos to add a bluetooth connection - everyone has their favorite MOG, Spotify, pandora apps on their iphones/androids. Let the phone manufacturers deal with the streaming companies (more accurately, the reverse I guess) and let the phone be the source. Would the user experience be that much worse? I think the native phone apps are better than the Sonos integration. Other than not being able to mix sources into a Sonos playlist and having to use a Sonos app (volume/zones) and Streaming app, I don't see a big downside. My friends all seem pretty happy with their bluetooth speakers these days...
dahlm,

Bluetooth is a relatively short range solution. I don't think that it would roam very well.

Also, I prefer not having my music tied to a phone or computer. For me, that is the beauty of SONOS.