Sonos, whole-home audio provider, is one of the very few product lines that seems universally loved. Everyone I know with a system, swears by it. While at Sling, I often crossed paths with Sonos foot soldiers at various events. But I finally got a chance to sit down with CEO John MacFarlane a couple of weeks ago – to see their new Sonos iPhone Controller in action. And more fascinating than the software itself is iPhone Controller back story. Sonos has heard the touchscreen requests, but hybrid analog/touchscreen prototypes didn’t fare well in their usability testing and pure a touchscreen device was uncomfortable for some. Whereas the iPhone demographic is obviously already in tune with touchscreen conventions. The free Sonos iPhone Controller can supplement or replace the existing Sonos Controller ($400) – effectively lowering the cost of entry for many. However, Sonos still has a marketing challenge in communicating to potential customers exactly what components are needed and I can’t say they’re priced for the casual audiophile.
In addition to the new iPhone App, Sonos is also introducing additional Internet streaming services today: Last.FM (scrobbling across all sources!), audio podcasts, and over 15,000 radio stations are available via Sonos Software 2.7.