Your Digital Media Has Never Looked So Good

 
jmthkg
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:51 pm

Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:56 am

Well, I just got a Roku SoundBridge M1001 and am now somewhat sadly surprised to find this thread and the news that the SoundBridge will be discontinued.

Still, I love the product and will happily use it until the day it dies (which, given the problem I'm having with the optical line failing, may be sooner than I'd like).

Having been in businesses where holding things up by the bootstraps is more common than not, I can appreciate the need to terminate a product that is not making money (which was the purpose of why the product was created in the first place). While customers may not be happy with the weak confirmation by management that the SoundBridge line has a limited horizon, I can understand that too. There are some assets left in the product (R&D, patents, hardware, software, customer base, etc.). So the question may well be what remaining value can be extracted from all that before dropping the axe. Hence, until some decision about that is made, there is reluctance to remove the goose from the cage.

Additionally, I know first hand that marketing a good product can be extraordinarily difficult. Channels may not be receptive, especially if the product's function and market fit isn't easily understood by old-school channel types making the decisions to carry the product. Distribution and retail margins also may not be high enough to justify the sales effort, especially if the public isn't banging down doors to buy up the product. Lots of things can go wrong, no matter how evangelical the marketing team may be.

I think the SoundBridge has (had) a great price point and does what it is designed to do quite well. But how many average Joes out there know enough about networking to set this product up? For someone with a little bit of networking experience (like setting up a router), it isn't too difficult. But those folks are far fewer in number than we'd like to believe. For the technically adverse (and that still is most folks) it can be like stepping into the Twilight Zone. This is probably reason #1 why it didn't sell too well. Too much consumer education is required to sell it to the average Joe, and the support cost to get the average Joe to get it working right may have been too high too.

It doesn't help, either, that the user documentation is rather thin (not even a schematic showing the connections at the back of the unit!). Without initiative, the average Joe has challenges.

Moreover, I think this product was a bit ahead of its time, particularly with respect to Internet radio. Kind of like a chicken/egg scenario. When the general public is still getting up to speed on the possibilities and access to Internet radio, selling the hardware to play the content can be difficult. This is probably reason #2 why it didn't sell well: there just isn't a large scale awareness of Internet radio content yet among most folks.

All that said, awareness of Internet Radio will reach a tipping point (really, it only has just started coming into its own in recent years). When that happens, perhaps in the next couple of years, this kind of product will have a better fit in the home than before. I originally got it to play my library of MP3s from a home NAS without having to turn my PC on, but after plugging it in and discovering how easily I could receive feeds of Internet radio stations without using my PC as an intermediary, I haven't turned this product off (I literally have it running 24/7). Still, the fact of the matter is that I didn't get this product first to listen to Internet radio (which is perhaps telling in itself); that was just a happy bonus. Now it is my number one use.

Timing is everything. Roku may be bowing out of this market licking its pioneering wounds, but others will step in if money can be made. Most businesses follow markets; few can make them.
 
pdbowers
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:00 pm

Thank you!

Sat Jul 18, 2009 6:03 am

While there may be some sadness about this product reaching the end of it's life, there is still plenty to do with it. Unlike you, I bought it specifically for the fact that it could play thousands of internet stations, and not so much for the fact that I could listen to all my purchased music.

I still use this product daily, and have found a few stations that I cannot live without. There is no way anyone can listen to more than one station at a time anyway, and the price was also a big factor for me. At the time, a Sonos system was totally out of the question. What still boggles my mind is how some things survive, and others fall to the wayside..

I just wanted to say that your post was precise, accurate, and very well stated. I know there are a few here who are livid that the Soundbridge may or may not, be leaving...and they put a lot of sweat and tears into making the Radioroku database as complete as possible. I still say that we will be able to use our Soundbridge(s) indefinitely, and I'm glad I bought all of mine.
Intel iMac, 24 inch Desktop
M1001 x 3
Roku Netflix Media Player
iPad 2
Dell Inspiron 2305
Big fan of Linux
Wirelessly Connected using Netgear
 
stephq
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 10:24 am

Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:07 pm

With the success they are having with the netflix box, hopefully in a not too distant future they can invest back in some marketing and R&D to remake the SoundBridge line bigger and better. I'd hate to see it go away... i have my Roku M2000 playing faithfully and i'd hate to see it die and not be able to get another SoundBridge product. :(
 
dellsweig
Posts: 419
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:03 am
Location: Campbell Hall NY

Re: Thank you!

Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:39 am

pdbowers wrote:
While there may be some sadness about this product reaching the end of it's life, there is still plenty to do with it. Unlike you, I bought it specifically for the fact that it could play thousands of internet stations, and not so much for the fact that I could listen to all my purchased music.

I still use this product daily, and have found a few stations that I cannot live without. There is no way anyone can listen to more than one station at a time anyway, and the price was also a big factor for me. At the time, a Sonos system was totally out of the question. What still boggles my mind is how some things survive, and others fall to the wayside..

I just wanted to say that your post was precise, accurate, and very well stated. I know there are a few here who are livid that the Soundbridge may or may not, be leaving...and they put a lot of sweat and tears into making the Radioroku database as complete as possible. I still say that we will be able to use our Soundbridge(s) indefinitely, and I'm glad I bought all of mine.


I just jumped on here and came across this thread.....

I have had my Soundbridge for over a year now. As others have said I was looking for a way to access over 500 CD's and 2000 Hours of grateful Dead Soundboards from my NAS. The Soundbridge turned out to be the BEST piece of consumer electronics I have ever seen.

I use the Internet radio features and stream my XM/Sirus into the Soundbridge as well (via uXM).

There is no product out there that has the quality, features and simplicity.

It is a loss to see it go - hopefully Roku will reconsider.....
 
brian123me
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 10:53 pm
Location: Calgary

Sat Aug 29, 2009 1:33 am

The internet radio is a device that people are unsure of. They don't really know or understand what it will do for them. The problem with marketing the soundbridge through a big box store is it's just another gadget device and even some of the sales people in those stores don't even know what to do with the soundbridge. It was placed in the corner and anyone that did see it was not sure of what it really did. Another unknown gadget.

Most cities around the world are now very global and there are huge groups of all cultures in each city. Many of these people do listen to internet streams on their PC's to keep up with their homeland. Many, many more would listen to their homeland on a device that took them right there with a push of a power button on a remote.

It would go over much better if regionally it was marketed by someone focused on reaching those cultural groups as well as groups with specific interests like listening to events streamed over the internet that they could not have caught locally. There should be one soundbridge in every cultural center in every city on the planet. For the cost and what it would do for them, I'm sure there would be interest. But, they don't know about this device.

As for the streaming of your network music library we would all agree that this is a great part of what the soundbridge does. Other devices will do this as well, but it's the combination of both, having internet radio at your finger tips and on your stereo as well as having the easy access to all your music that makes the soundbridge great for me.

The soundbridge is a specialty device and should be sold by a local rep/retailer with expertise on the product (not some young box store sales person with no clue about the device and no interest in what it does. Without guidance, people only get interested in things they think will make them hip to others. So if someone has never heard of something it's not relevant.

To some people the soundbridge would not be that complicated, but to many it would be very complicated, to much work and to hard to figure out.

It is pretty easy to get it going out of the box but beyond that, roku snooper, radio roku are things they would miss out on, as many would not know what it would do for them. If someone set it up for them and showed them how to use the tools they may be okay. The soundbridge is an amazing device with what it can do compared to many devices that have experienced great success and are half of what the soundbridge is. This is one of a kind device and needs to be treated with respect. A few small changes and it would be perfect. I truly hope it comes back, the market is there, it just doesn’t know it. YET
Reconsider updating to 11g (11a looks bad as people believe it’s ancient if it’s not N or at least 11g, they think their tech savey but don't really understand all the factors to why they may or may not need N or even g ) and some code upgrades/functionality and give it another chance.
Last edited by brian123me on Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
jlsoaz
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:12 pm

Sun Nov 01, 2009 5:28 pm

I haven't had time to read this entire thread but ok, at least now we have a clear statement from the company.

I suggested awhile back on the video side that they make audio available through the video player, and I'm going to herein re-suggest that and in a fresh thread I think. Dupondt made some points about the uniqueness of Radio Roku and so in particular I'd say it could be a chance to leverage Radio Roku, as an asset separate from the Soundbridge. If it could be brought in as a separate new channel via one's TV screen, why not?

Cable services do this now (bring in satellite or other audio) and why shouldn't Roku?

I'd be curious as to why RokuAnthony cited ipod as the competition. When I looked into buying another internet radio device last year, I wasn't aware this could be done through ipod. There were several other devices from other companies competing with the Soundbridge. Maybe the ipod can do internet radio and other features and I just didn't realize it.
 
tstroll
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 9:22 pm

Re: An open letter to Roku's CEO Anthony Wood

Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:34 pm

I've been having trouble getting the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio One lately on my Roku Soundbridges (there's a thread about that elsewhere in these forums) and in trying to solve it I stumbled across this thread.

I am multilingual (mostly in French, Spanish, and Portuguese as well as English of course) and listen to my two Soundbridges for hours a day in English (mostly the BBC) and Portuguese (CBN news radio from Brazil). I would miss them if they stopped working. There's no comparison between a PC and a device like this that, despite some quirks, nevertheless allows you to reach a preset radio station with a couple of clicks even if your PC is off. It is so easy and radio-like. By comparison, listening to radio streams on one's PC is unappealing. A PC's bright screen isn't compatible with nighttime listening as one drifts off, and who wants to wait for the PC to boot up and then shut it down just to listen to a radio station?

If my Soundbridges fail and/or it becomes too much trouble to maintain the URLs for the presets, is there any similar product out there that someone can recommend? Judging from the other posts in this thread, the Soundbridge is the best so far.
 
jlsoaz
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:12 pm

Re: An open letter to Roku's CEO Anthony Wood

Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:13 pm

I'm not sure if they will really let you get into a direct discussion of competitors on here, but I don't know. It should not be too hard to find some under a variety of searches like wi-fi radio, internet radio etc.

Pandora can be found as a channel on a Roku Digital Video Player, so we are partway home as far as bringing in music via TV (if you are ok with the energy waste of the screen, if your screen won't go off, and if you're ok with the speakers). However, even though Roku has moved basically to abandon the internet radio player space, it has seemingly not yet bothered to set up the digital video player so that it would bring in roku radio, or even just a small collection of stations. That needs to be done, in my view.

Anyway, yes, there are plenty of competing devices at this point, compared to the Soundbridge, but I think some of them were quite outrageously expensive last I looked perhaps a few were more reasonably priced.

jl
 
tstroll
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 9:22 pm

Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:40 pm

Thanks for the information. I hope my Soundbridges last and work for a long time. I thank Roku for producing the Soundbridge and wish it had been a more successful product. We have interns at work who hail from various corners of the world and I've recommended the Roku Soundbridge to one or two of them. As best I recall, this was the first any intern had heard of it.

The Soundbridge might have done better than I gather it has had it been advertised heavily in various ethnic communities. I live in the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, an area inhabited by hundreds of thousands of prosperous immigrants who probably would have welcomed the Roku had they heard of it.
 
jlsoaz
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:12 pm

Re: An open letter to Roku's CEO Anthony Wood

Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:18 pm

If I could make a list of 30 or 50 pieces of computer and A/V hardware I've bought over the last 25 years, the Soundbridge would probably qualify as one of the top three or four "keepers", in terms of what it brought to my life, cost, general "feeling" about it, everything. Maybe the very top spot. However, the company decided they couldn't make money at it after a certain point, and also decided not to be clear with us about that. I'm thinking it's two to four years since they really decided to blow it off.

My hope is they essentially change the Digital Video Player to the point where on one of the TV channels it uses the TV as a menu screen and essentially can do everything a soundbridge can do. If they would do that, then I could turn off my stereo system and treat my TV as the stereo system, I guess.
 
DJans
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:06 am
Location: Germany

Re: An open letter to Roku's CEO Anthony Wood

Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:20 am

I can only agree with a lot of people here that the SB is (was) a really more than great product. I have 8 soundbridges at home (1 x M2000, 2 x M1000, 3 x R1000, 2 x M500) and must say that for my whole family the soundbridge is still the home entertainment medium #1 here at home.

What I cannot understand: The development is done and Roku was (and is it still?) able to develop and to manufacture a really great piece of home entertainment technology. When I compare the older generation of Soundbridges with its metal body, especially the M2000, it is really an unbelievable fact that the production and development of such a product is stopped even when internet radio becomes a popular and mainstream market medium.

I am sure the main problem of the Soundbridge series was that it was there before its time and a lot of people really did not realize that there is something to play internet radio without using a PC. For years internet radio was only a thing that is running as background music on a PC when surfing. Moreover, the marketing of the soundbridge was really bad. Terratec sells its ugly as sin looking Noxon players years ago in every computer store here in Europe and nowbody here knows about a system like soundbridge.

Now, when it had become a little bit known because sold here in Europe rebranded as "Pinnacle" it all stops.

Roku, you have developed such a great piece of home entertainment, continue it! Make units that can be seen as hifi equipment, like the M500/1000/2000 series and not as plastic boxed user toys. I am sure that now the time has come to enter a mainstream market and not only just a "freaky" fan group.

Real high tech mobile phones with OLED, touch, Wifi, navigation,... are sold for less than 150 US$ in the world, you have developed a system using less of that perfomance, you cannot tell me that producing a new soundbridge sold for 150 US$ is not realizable with a good selling profit.
 
S80_UK
Posts: 1035
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:11 am
Location: Cambridgeshire, UK

Re: An open letter to Roku's CEO Anthony Wood

Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:24 pm

DJans wrote:
Real high tech mobile phones with OLED, touch, Wifi, navigation,... are sold for less than 150 US$ in the world, you have developed a system using less of that perfomance, you cannot tell me that producing a new soundbridge sold for 150 US$ is not realizable with a good selling profit.

I can...

Some simple facts. Phones are very heavily subsidised by the phone carriers who charge you for every byte of data / second of speech. Buy a high-end phone without a contract to see what it really costs.

Roku never made a cent out of selling the SoundBridge. The costs for the product are very high compared to the typical manufactured costs of consumer electronics at the $150 price point. Despite gains in recent years, media streaming and internet radio is still a niche market. Such products sell in tiny volumes compared to phones.

I have a few connections in the consumer electronics industry. A $150 retail realistically means a manufactured cost of less than $50 out of China. And that is in the US. That $150 will sell at 150 Euro or 150 pounds in Europe due to different business practices and taxes. As has been noted before on this forum, all the margins must be compounded so that each party in the supply chain can make a living, from the component manufacturers (20%), their distributors (30%), the equipment manufacturer (20%), the shipper (10%), the application of import duties (varies - up to 12% or so), the brand (35%), their national distributors (25%), the retailer (30 - 50%), and then the local sales taxes (5% to 20%).

Now check out the cost of those fabulous VFD displays. Add in the other components. Add in the software licences (MP3, WMA, AAC all come at a price - and don't think open source means free - it doesn't). Add in the packaging, etc, etc.

If you can do better, go do it!
Roku M1000, M1001, M2000, R1000, Roberts WM-201, Stream 83i
 
lubelira
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:27 pm

Re: An open letter to Roku's CEO Anthony Wood

Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:33 pm

as a recent purchaser of roku soundbridge, via e bay and craigslist i am amazed that this wonderful inexpensive inveniion has been allowed to go dormant.. the roku radio volunteers have done an incredible job and it works , easily and well. Permits novices like me to tun any kind of music to household amplifier even when no local stations are available.. I salute the people that are still making it work and only wish it were able to purchase as i would be giving it as a gift to all of my friends at this christmas season... PS. was even able to get continuous christmas music for Berlin playing throughout my home for the holiday.. Thank you one and all
 
Rich Hamilton
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:10 am
Location: Southwest FL, USA

Re: An open letter to Roku's CEO Anthony Wood

Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:59 pm

Alas, Anthony my have seen the writing on the wall when video streaming became commonplace (Youtube and such). Not to mention that, while the SoundBridge was ahead of its time in that it was one of the first internet radio streaming appliances being sold at the time, it still relied on the existence broadband internt connections, internet streaming stations and some sort of audio hardware to actually listen to the appliance (like a receiver). Now that more and more receivers are becoming "internet ready" and can provide streaming content without the use of a streaming appliance such as the SoundBridge, the days of this lovely niche device are now certainly numbered.

The SoundBridge will be continue to be loved and admired by those who have owned and used them since their inception - but gradually they will fade into the past as novel devices that took advantage of a technological trend that some saw fit to try to profit from. And while the SoundBridge definitely did it with a certain style and grace that others couldn't quite match, it was still an eventual self-fulfilling prophesy that this somewhat simplistic tech would easily be copied and/or included in existing devices to the same effect; without the clutter of cables, power adapters or vacuum florescent displays to burn out.

So, while I still thoroughly enjoy my M1001, if a lightning strike took away that artful piece of internet tech that resides next to my cheap Sherwood receiver tomorrow, I would simply toss my M1001, box up my Sherwood receiver, sell it a garage sale and buy a new receiver that can do just what my SoundBridge/Sherwood combination did and so much more - all in the same package.

In the mean time, please excuse Mr Wood as a business man who has the foresight to plan accordingly and move onto other, more profitable things, even though he apparently doesn't have the courage to come outright and say it to those who chose to follow the semi-brilliant legacy that was the SoundBridge.
 
S80_UK
Posts: 1035
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:11 am
Location: Cambridgeshire, UK

Re: An open letter to Roku's CEO Anthony Wood

Sun Dec 25, 2011 2:49 am

Rich Hamilton wrote:
So, while I still thoroughly enjoy my M1001, if a lightning strike took away that artful piece of internet tech that resides next to my cheap Sherwood receiver tomorrow, I would simply toss my M1001, box up my Sherwood receiver, sell it a garage sale and buy a new receiver that can do just what my SoundBridge/Sherwood combination did and so much more - all in the same package.

Maybe - but don't be surprised if the solution embedded in the receiver is not as good in some respects as the SoundBridge. Sure, it's a single box solution with a single remote control, etc. However, few devices match the SoundBridge for its ease of use, and some of the streaming solutions employed in receivers (notably those with Airplay support) cannot support gapless playback via UPnP, or bit-accurate streaming (which has its uses apart from the quality benefits). Even fewer can match the display capabilities (I like my Chinese meta-data accurately displayed). Right now my solution to the lightning strike scenario is to have some spare units put away.

Happy Christmas everyone!
Roku M1000, M1001, M2000, R1000, Roberts WM-201, Stream 83i

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