Your Digital Media Has Never Looked So Good

 
dupondt
Topic Author
Posts: 1653
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2007 6:46 am
Location: Germany, European Union

An open letter to Roku's CEO Anthony Wood

Sat Apr 18, 2009 4:30 am

Mr. Wood,

for many months now there have been both questions and controversy about the discontinuation of the SoundBridge range of products.

Neither you personally nor any of your employees have ever taken part in these discussions, which consequently added to such speculation.

There have, however, neither been questions nor controversy about Radio Roku (except, of course, when the service was down which happened quite frequently in the last couple months).

The time has come to change this.

Today, in spite of its glitches and bugs, Radio Roku is one of the most sophisticated and comprehensive internet radio guides on the web. Its database does not need to fear the comparison with others, and it has a stylish and practical user interface.

There are now 12,293 live approved stations listed within Radio Roku. More than 45,000 stream URLs either auto-uploaded by the SoundBridges or submitted by the users have been appropriately sorted into their relevant stations. Thousands of volunteers contributed to the growth and the improvement of the database.

Over the past 18 months the task of maintaining the database was nearly entirely done by two volunteer Moderators based in Europe, my very good friend alanmc and myself. During the whole of this time there has been no support from anyone at Roku! Remember? That's the company who started it all because you wanted to make money with both the SoundBridge and Radio Roku!

All of this was visible to a worldwide public and has been acknowledged by many people many times in these forums and in personal messages to the Moderators of Radio Roku. You, however, didn't even take notice of the progress, let alone acknowledge the results achieved by their many thousands of unpaid working hours.

Furthermore, the Moderators filed bug reports and submitted suggestions for the improvement of Radio Roku, and many members of these forums, too, repeatedly asked for bugs to be fixed and features to be improved. Neither you nor your staff have ever seriously dealt with these reports and suggestions.

All of this brings me to the conclusion that you have not only completely lost interest in the SoundBridge range of products, but also in Radio Roku. And if you have lost interest, why should your volunteer Moderators be motivated to continue their work?

It's a disgrace that you obviously are willing to let a revolutionary product like the SoundBridge and a fantastic service like Radio Roku go down the drain. But if this is what you have decided, you should at least have the guts to inform your customers, and not deliberately lie to them by maintaining the silence.

Finally, permit me to add a very personal observation. Having been born, raised and educated in Europe, I am used to people getting along with each other in a polite and respectful manner. Neither you personally nor your employees, albeit knowing that the maintenance of Radio Roku entirely depended on only two individuals, ever bothered to answer emails in a timely manner or tried to respect the basic rules of common courtesy. This not only demonstrates that there obviously is a major cultural gap between you and me, but also made it very clear that you always considered me and the other volunteers as useful idiots.

The idiot having written the above will therefore now stop to be useful for Roku and use his expertise to contribute to other projects where he at least receives a "thank-you" from time to time.

dupondt
SoundBridge M1001 and M1000 • Clint L1 (retired) • DNT IP-dio (retired)
Google Chromecast • Amazon Fire TV • Amazon Echo and Echo Dot
 
Burkhardi
Posts: 1943
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:06 am
Location: Austin, Texas ...Y'all

Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:17 am

Hello Dupondt!

I wanted to use this to say thanks for the hard work that both you and Alan have done for RadioRoku and their users. I am sorry to hear things have come to this and I really hope (I type this with the fear of being labeled a “Fanboyâ€
Roku3 and Roku HD1000 [Rev B] on a Samsung HLP5674W DLP in the living room; a Roku2 and two Roku XS and a few SoundBridges.Win7; Kubuntu and XP via RT-N66U, E2000 and a switch or two. I own stock in Roku, it's just all in the form of hardware.Viva la Roku
 
User avatar
RokuAnthony
El Jefe
Posts: 702
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2004 12:44 pm
Location: Palo Alto, CA USA
Contact:

Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:54 am

Hi Dupondt and All,

Let me start by saying Roku, our employees and our community certainly do appreciate your help maintaining Radio Roku. I apologize for not being as responsive as you would like.

Let me spend a few lines outlining the SoundBridge saga and its current status, in the hope that I can clear a few things up. We love the SoundBridge line. We produced 6 different versions of the hardware (M500, M1000, M1001, M2000, R1000, embedded module). We released dozens of software updates for no charge. Everything from bug fixes to major new features like RadioRoku.com. We invested millions of dollars in product development and marketing. But the unfortunate truth is that we have never made money on SoundBridge and continue to loose money on it. Although there is a core following of enthusiasts the love it (me included), the mass market of consumers spend their music player money on iPods and iPod docks.

Employees don’t work for free, and eventually we started shifting our SoundBridge employees to projects that are more profitable. If we hadn’t done this, Roku would have gone out of business, and there would be no support or no radio Roku for customers. But this is the reason you don’t get much soundbridge employee communication.

We still support radioroku.com and soundbridge. We provide repair and replacement service. We have increased the IT budget recently to improve radio roku’s “up timeâ€
 
alanmc
Posts: 1391
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:40 am
Location: Bedfordshire - U.K.

Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:11 am

. . . . now where's my pinch-of-salt?
 
FrankB
Posts: 279
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:16 am

Mon Apr 20, 2009 4:07 pm

It's so frustrating. I just convinced my mother to get a Soundbridge this past weekend. People just don't get it. Such a well done product line.

Thanks to Roku, thanks to the volunteer maintainers. I and my family love my 5 Soundbridges!

Frank
 
AmazinglySmooth
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2004 7:48 pm

Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:58 am

Has Roku considered partnering with other content providers (such as SXM or Slacker)?
 
Burkhardi
Posts: 1943
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:06 am
Location: Austin, Texas ...Y'all

Thu Apr 23, 2009 5:02 pm

AmazinglySmooth wrote:
Has Roku considered partnering with other content providers (such as SXM or Slacker)?


How about a SoundBridge with soft buttons like "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" for Pandora? I would love to see a touch screen soundbridge with a TFT or OLED scren about 3"X6" or so. Then it can show album art and such too.
Roku3 and Roku HD1000 [Rev B] on a Samsung HLP5674W DLP in the living room; a Roku2 and two Roku XS and a few SoundBridges.Win7; Kubuntu and XP via RT-N66U, E2000 and a switch or two. I own stock in Roku, it's just all in the form of hardware.Viva la Roku
 
cslewis2003
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:00 am
Location: Toronto

Disapointing news about SB

Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:19 pm

That is disappointing news to hear that the soundbridge product will be discontinued. IMHO, it represents the most cost effective network music device on the market today, but clearly, as is true with most things in life, video killed the radio star.

Given your business decision to no longer produce the product, would you consider opening the hardware / software platform to your obviously dedicated user?

Perhaps we could figure out how to improve or cost reduce the unit to the point of profitability - the EL display, while gorgeous, can be downloaded to something much cheaper.

Just a thought.
 
Burkhardi
Posts: 1943
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:06 am
Location: Austin, Texas ...Y'all

Re: Disapointing news about SB

Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:11 pm

cslewis2003 wrote:
That is disappointing news to hear that the soundbridge product will be discontinued. IMHO, it represents the most cost effective network music device on the market today, but clearly, as is true with most things in life, video killed the radio star.

Given your business decision to no longer produce the product, would you consider opening the hardware / software platform to your obviously dedicated user?

Perhaps we could figure out how to improve or cost reduce the unit to the point of profitability - the EL display, while gorgeous, can be downloaded to something much cheaper.

Just a thought.


Loved the Bunggles quote there cslewis2003!
Roku did have a model downloaded to something "much" cheaper, it was the M500. When the three main untis where the M500, M1000 and M2000 the M500 was a M1000 with an LCD display and I want to say it was at least $50 cheaper if not more. But I don't think it did as well since you could get the M1000 for $50 more; but then again, that's a 1/4 more then the M500 price.

M500 $199
M1000 $249
M2000 $499

IMHO, the biggest issue was lack of market share as a company and customer knowledge.
For a small company, it's hard to spend a butt-load of money on advertising and such to get your name out there. Also, the concept was not main stream yet.

Now that streaming music and iRadio are more commonplace and the Roku name is becoming a household name (thanks to the N1000) the next SoundBridge may have a real chance (if and when it’s made). Most of the other devices in this genre have horrid displays, displays that are too small or the UI is clunky. The M1000 excelled in all those areas, but they were not in too many stores and the ones they were in had sales staff that had no idea what they were or let alone did. I would go to BestBuy and see a M500 or M1000 and ask the sales guy and they would either say they have no clue what it was or something misleading like it lets you play the music that you are playing on your PC to your stereo; Which makes it sounds like you would have to control it all from your PC and have it running like the Linksys WMB54G Music Bridge which is not true and pretty useless. That would be like a pair of wireless RCA cables more or less (which is what the WMB54G) seems to be.

For the first time someone came to may house this weekend and knew what Roku was, they knew from the N1000. But they had no clue about the other stuff that Roku sold. So where it use to be that the common Joe had no idea who or what Roku was/did, with the N1000 being launched and in so many houses, it's something that is not for foreign anymore (at least IMHO). So if they add RadioRoku to the N1000 as a channel (and perhaps even UPnP) then it will get even more popular and then the users/owners will want iRadio and music streaming for other rooms in their house (w/o a TV) and then buy a SoundBridge since they can now understand what it does.

Once again , just my 2-cents worth, opinion and your mileage may vary, Matt


So lets hope for that "SoundBridge comeback"...
Roku3 and Roku HD1000 [Rev B] on a Samsung HLP5674W DLP in the living room; a Roku2 and two Roku XS and a few SoundBridges.Win7; Kubuntu and XP via RT-N66U, E2000 and a switch or two. I own stock in Roku, it's just all in the form of hardware.Viva la Roku
 
ejcinpl
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:38 pm
Location: San Jose, CA

A new message to Mr. Wood

Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:57 pm

Mr. Woods email reply was pathetic. While I understand that companies have to make decisions on products and markets to pursue based upon profitability, the saga of the soundbridge could have been handled much better. I personally have had to make such decisions, both for startup companies and multibillion dollar corporations, and when you make a decision to not support a product line you do it up front and notify the consumers of that product. Unfortunately Roku has followed a path with the soundbridge that leads to very negative customer reactions. I was very tempted to respond to the Wall Street Journal reporter on this forum and provide my "perspective" on Roku.

There have been many threads on this forum asking for clarification on where the soundbridge stood with no answers. I believe this email reply is the first 'official' notice of the discontinuance of the product line . A fact which will make consumers who have just paid for a new soundbridge/radio very happy to hear. It does not matter where you were born this is just a bad business practice and if I were managing Mr. Wood I would fire him.

Its really too bad as I have three soundbridge radio's and two M1001's and liked the product. I won't be buying a Roku Netflix product because of this experience and will tell others to look at other solutions (of which there are many).

ejcinpl
 
stretch
Posts: 623
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 12:29 am
Location: Australia

Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:16 am

I wouldn't be surprised if large numbers of SB's were returned by people thinking the unit was "broken" when the real problem was multicast issues in their router.

BTW, In Australia, an M2000 was approximately $800 :shock:. No wonder they didn't sell too well.
2 x M2000's
Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ with Firefly svn-1676
NSLU2, 500GB Maxtor One Touch III, uNSLUng 6.8, Firefly svn-1696
music library in FLAC format
 
StarTechRadio
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:49 am
Location: UK

Sat May 09, 2009 11:39 am

It would appear that nobody is now maintaining the Radio Roku database. As the volunteer moderators are no longer willing to undertake this task having been (obviously) poorly treated and ignored by Roku management, just who will add and update the stations that I and many others have already submitted for approval?
 
gerry123
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:03 am
Location: Yorkshire, UK

Sun May 10, 2009 10:32 pm

I had the cheap model (pinnacle home music here in the UK) until recently where I accidentally put 9 volts up it's rectum and it was never the same again.

Now I loved my soundbridge, especially in the summer where it sat in my shed with an old Alba stereo and a couple of boombox speakers playing all the summer hits while we sat having a barbecue in those long hot summer days. (remember them?) They seem to have gone the same route as my SB did.

Now as summer is approaching again, I thought, I'll get another one, scoured the web, then I thought I'll have a look on here to see if there are any posts to see where the best deal may be. Came across this thread and my heart sank. There is no way I'm going to get another SB if Roku are ending the support.

To cut a long story short... I have decided to to go with a squeezebox 3 instead. Boy did I make the right choice. It's so much better, quicker, sounds even better than my old SB used to and it's so much easier to setup. Used to have problems connecting to my router with the SB, not the SB3. Connects first time and can do so much more.

I used to love my soundbridge, but that love affair it seems was doomed from the start. I have a new love in my life.

Buy a Squeezebox, you'll never know what true love is if you don't.

Gerry.
 
Ries-gr
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 2:59 am
Location: Netherlands

Mon May 11, 2009 6:41 am

gerry123 wrote:
There is no way I'm going to get another SB if Roku are ending the support.


Used to have problems connecting to my router with the SB, not the SB3. Connects first time and can do so much more.


I thought you still get support, they just discontinue the product.

For the connection problems, I have two SB and they both connected the first time and never stopped playing again. I guess it all comes down to the hardware you use. Most people just use garbage network hardware and expect professional performance at the cheapest price.
 
gerry123
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:03 am
Location: Yorkshire, UK

Mon May 11, 2009 7:54 pm

Ries-gr wrote:
gerry123 wrote:
There is no way I'm going to get another SB if Roku are ending the support.


Used to have problems connecting to my router with the SB, not the SB3. Connects first time and can do so much more.


I thought you still get support, they just discontinue the product.

For the connection problems, I have two SB and they both connected the first time and never stopped playing again. I guess it all comes down to the hardware you use. Most people just use garbage network hardware and expect professional performance at the cheapest price.


It's OK to feel hurt. I did, but I soon got over it.

The support when the product was new was diabolical (See OP) do you seriously think that Roku are going to improve now that they've ditched the product.

And as for using cheap hardware. Roku had a list that it's units did not connect to. Squeezebox doesn't, it connects to them all, cheap or otherwise.

I seriously hope your soundbridges keep giving you wonderful performance and I'm happy that you enjoy them. But for me, at least that was never going to be the case.

Gerry.

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