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Bose SoundTouch Wi-Fi Players to Rival Sonos Whole-House Streaming

Bose introduces three SoundTouch Wi-Fi self-contained combination Internet radio/streaming audio devices that will eventually connect wirelessly to Bose Jewel Cube speakers and VideoWave TVs.


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Bose’s SoundTouch music system is based on 802.11g Wi-Fi and streams music from the web or from a stored collection. The units also include Apple Airplay so homeowners can access music from their iDevices.

Move over everyone, the big boy has come to town.

Bose, the No. 1 audio brand in terms of consumer awareness, has finally entered the Internet radio/streaming audio market with a line of self-contained one-piece receiver/speaker products branded under the name SoundTouch Wi-Fi. Using its powerful marketing machine and extensive dealer/retailer network, Bose will likely immediately make an impact with these products, which are aimed squarely at Sonos, NuVo and other brands that have successfully built the category among consumers and integrators.

Based on 802.11g Wi-Fi, the SoundTouch music systems allow users to stream music from the web or from a stored collection. The units also include Apple Airplay so homeowners can access music from their iDevices. Bose plans to add other music services like Deezer, iHeartRadio and others. 

Specifically for integrators, the devices are not controllable by third-party control systems, but they do maintain Bose’s “healthy” margins for resellers. Bose’s entry into the space, with its marketing, is likely to quickly increase consumer awareness of the category and create spillover opportunities for integrators.

Bose debuted the systems to national and international media this week in New York City. At launch, there are three systems:

SoundTouch 30 Wi-Fi: Measuring 10x17x7 inches (HxWxD), this unit is designed for larger spaces. Bose, which is known for its strict policing of a universal pricing policy, has this unit set at $699.

SoundTouch 20 Wi-Fi: At 7x12x4 inches, this more compact unit is targeted for bedrooms, bathrooms or other smaller sized areas of the home. It is priced at $399.

SoundTouch Portable Wi-Fi: This smaller unit has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery in a speaker about the size of book at 6x10x3 inches.

The line will expand in December 2013 with the inclusion of the same feature set in the Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System. Early in 2014, other products added to the family will include the SoundTouch Stereo JC Wi-Fi that connects to Bose Jewel Cube speakers (and an Acoustimass module for bass), weather-resistant outdoor speakers, and Lifestyle home theater systems and VideoWave TVs that will be SoundTouch enabled. Conceivably, the wireless connectivity to the speakers and TV will open up the potential for the SoundTouch devices to be used as source components in a multiroom audio or home theater setting.

The entire dealer and retail network for the company has been trained on the “one-touch” sales pitch, and the three products launching today are available for purchase immediately.

Design & Engineering

“The engineering focus for the products was portability, control and effortlessness,” says Glenn Gomes-Casseres of Bose. The company attempted to not over-engineer the product line, which was in development for more than three years, according to Phil Hess, Bose vice president.

The units have a front-facing OLED screen that gives feedback on what song or Internet radio station has been selected using metadata. The devices rely heavily on consumers’ familiarity with the “preset” mentality, in essence aiming to emulate the preset hardkey experience that most consumers have with in their car radios. On top of each unit are six simple preset buttons that can be pressed and held to preset a station, Pandora channel or iTunes playlist from a PC. There are also volume up and down hardkeys and a power button. That’s it.

Each of the three initial units also comes with an IR remote, with the remote for the SoundTouch Stereo JC having a unique round design. There is a spin wheel on the outside of the remote for volume control and the LED in the center is actually a touchscreen that can be used to pause songs.

A free downloadable app for iOS, Mac, Android and Windows is also available. The app is very clean and simple, using simple drag-and-drop or press-and-hold commands to create presets. The interface displays album art and song title information when played. There is also a “Recents” button that allows the user to access the last 50 songs listened to, along with icons for Pandora and Music Library. On the bottom of the app, there is a scroll bar that allows the user to switch between multiple SoundTouches in a home.

Right now, Bose is using only a global preset ability, meaning if there are multiple SoundTouch devices in a home, all six presets apply to every unit. But according to designer Conor Sheehan, there will soon be an ability to have individual presets for each device. The app also has a Party mode that allows you to control volume levels on multiple devices in a home. The interface can be customized by the homeowner using a Setting button to name zones, etc. There is also an Explore panel that allows the user to search artists, find Internet radio station genres, etc.

Bose president Bob Maresca says the company put the device through its paces, which is one reason it took so long for the company to enter the category. Maresca noted that even his wife, who is a complete technophobe, found SoundTouch simple and intuitive. He admits that adding Airplay and the OLED screen made the units more expensive to manufacture, but are necessary elements for simplicity and feedback.  “We were not going to let this thing out until we could satisfy a wide swath of customers,” he adds.

According to Hess, the company considered Bluetooth but he notes, “it’s great for point-to-point communication, but it’s not its time yet.”  He adds, “We believe SoundTouch systems will change music at home the way Bluetooth speakers changed music on-the-go.”



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Bose SoundTouch Wi-Fi Players to Rival Sonos Whole-House Streaming


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About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

8 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by don bendell  on  10/11  at  07:10 AM

I don’t think Bose stands a chance overtaking Sonos. But…..............
First, Bose do not have the foot print into all the custom channel like Sonos does. Sonos is direct and that support is awesome.
Second, they are expensive to Sonos. Bose is more like a cross between the logitech Touch and Sonos. Bose is missing the Sonos “Connect’ piece which is a substantial amount of sales.
Finally, the death to Sonos could be on the horizon. Soooooo many companies are now building “Sonos Like” pieces that competition is heating up. But, this biggest mistake and the greatest attribute to the death of Sonos is this: “they failed as a company to partner with 3rd party intregration companies!” This is and has been their biggest flaw. Period!!!

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/11  at  07:28 AM

Don - Bose does indeed has an incredibly strong footprint in the custom channel.

Also, I don’t think integration partnership will kill Bose OR Sonos. It is the simplicity of the system and the richness of the standalone product that has/will make or break it.

Dealers forever said they wouldn’t touch Sonos because it wouldn’t integrate and, yet, here we are.

Posted by don bendell  on  10/11  at  08:08 AM

we can go back n forth all day!!!

BOSE does Not have a “incredibly strong” footprint in the custom channel. Are you serious? Back that up with a survey of intregraters. I have been doing this a long time, BOSE and intregration/custom channel is a oxy-moron. Really? going to throw Russound, Fusion Research, Speakercraft, Nuvo, etc the same boat as Bose and still claim “strong footprint”. Just becasue AVAD carrys a one or two of their sku’s does not make them a custom channel. Just because they show upto Cedia once every 15 years does not make them custom either.

richness and simplicity - yes, you are right. Intregration? then you have no idea of what is really going with media intregration partners. Does Bose have RS232/IP control?

“Here we are”. Question is “where are we going”? That is automation and intregration.
Yes the masses will always enjoy simplicity. Thanks Target/Best Buy

Posted by chicagorep  on  10/11  at  10:17 AM

Yes Don, Bose does have 3rd party RS232 control. They are currently partnered with Crestron, Savant, C4 and RTI. If you were at their room at Cedia you would have seen 3rd party control in action.

Posted by Jeff Myatt  on  10/11  at  12:44 PM

I think it’s great for the category. The more consumer awareness the better! The key is being able to differentiate ourselves when given opportunity. Bose is a brand that has cache with the consumer and does a wonderful job at marketing and engineering products for the masses. (As does Sonos) That awareness has driven many consumers to spend more when pitched and educated about the many other cool options available to personalize their experience. I welcome their products and the money they will spend drawing customers to their solutions.  A good percentage of those customers will step up to more customized solutions if we are able to produce features that engage our target customer.  None of this product is built in to the home, so fear not. There are still a lot of custom driven options available or coming soon.

Posted by HBlaugh  on  10/14  at  09:08 AM

Glad to see 3rd party integration support has finally arrived.

Posted by Shawn  on  10/18  at  08:47 AM

Sitting in Bose training right now and I can’t believe what I’m hearing!  First a positive - preset buttons are cool.  Now for where they fall short.  Setup requires a computer, most likely the customers.  Mobile device is not a source only control.  I repeat, you can not play music from your phone to these devices, the library comes from the “home” computer.  If the laptop is gone you only have internet sources.  They say this is temporary.  Then I ask why you launched?  Did you catch that you can’t set this up from a mobile device.  Swing and a huge miss for Bose.  Oh, also no plans for a “sound touch” capable soundbar.  These items in no way compete with Sonos, and I was so hopefully.  I was already selling Bose sound bars that were airplay capable in anticipation, lucky for me I was saying I think they will be doing it.  Very disappointed.

Posted by Shawn  on  10/18  at  08:56 AM

I guess I need clarification.  A Bose FAQ says it will play from your mobile device via AirPlay.  This guy from Bose is saying it is not currently available.

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