Distributed, mobile, cloud: my Roon priorities 1 - 86

That is true only at the breakthrough of a new technology, say the Walkman, the iPod, the first iPhone. Then there are more entrants in the market and it becomes a features war, often not desirable features (see the bloat of MS Office!)

I think it is not always easy to know what is a must have feature for product evolution or a non essential feature.

For Roon and MQA you get different points of view of course.

Agreed. But I think that depends on the definition of “successful”. For me it’s successful for the user. Office is financially successful, but I wouldn’t regard it as successful software.

My last company regarded itself as a 12 year old startup for that reason. 12 years and 10 major versions on, there is still a hunger to innovate and a passion for the users. We entered a crowded, mature market with a clear vision and mission, and built product in the opposite way to the established vendors. Now they’re frantically trying to copy “features”. I’m hoping Roon chooses the same path.

It’s like getting old… it’s a state of mind :slight_smile:

1 Like

I don’t see the forums, personally, as people stating how things should be done. Music and music appreciation is a deeply personal experience. We all get to state our opinions (and that’s all they are. We don’t have the power of prophesy) and debate them. I don’t think it’s one at the expense of another. Like you say the thread is thought provoking and that is good. Even if at the end the Roon guys - who ultimately are the ones who know their business model - say “thanks. But we are going in this direction…”. Roon so far has been about being inclusionary rather than exclusionary. So i would think they would innovate in a manner that doesn’t close doors or preclude other developments.

1 Like

I feel the same way about my company.

Jeff Bezoz says it is Always Day One at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/z6o9g6sysxur57t

Maybe we need topic threads here on Entrepreneurship!

1 Like

I think that is the interesting thing with Roon - the people attracted to it. I get the sense on this forum there are a lot of folks who are pretty well respected in their fields and “been there”. A heck of a lot of experience. I love it… I can learn something new every day (and have).

1 Like

There are several threads. This one is useful. I wrote a brief how-to, @rovinggecko wrote a better one, we also reference a book at Amazon. Others write about other programs, e.g. @magnus.

1 Like

@Bryan_Allen I wrote this in reply, but I was partially wrong:

It is correct that playback on an iOS device is necessary, for other scenarios too.

But in normal Roon usage, reading the files or the stream and much processing are done in the Core, and for mobile playback away from the Core that code has to be ported to iOS. So that is a requirement specifically for this scenario.

Having a savvy user base willing to have a discussion like this is a boon for Roon to be a “fly on the wall”. However, without direct ownership via an official thread on the matter, this discussion is a bunch of users talking to each other about what would be great.

I may have said I would be happy if Roon were in business in 10 years and only made minor improvements and platform compatibility updates. However that’s not realistic. Without innovation another company will enter the marketplace and deliver what Roon does and more to fill the gap in demand. So (just my $.02), the questions on future Roon are probably best led by Roon.

Obvious statement: they must keep innovating to stay relevant. Ubiquitous playback is likely the path, however you get what you pay for when taking free advice :wink:

None of us can make decisions for roon. And if we all arrived and consensus among ourselves, they still wouldn’t have to pay a jot of attention to it. This much is true.

I do think the roon guys pay attention to these threads… they don’t generally contribute because if they said “hey we think…” it would colour the discussion. Either it would draw everyone to consensus on what they say, or it would spark a different kind of debate.

Question is do folks want to debate it when it isn’t in our hands? I do. The folks on the roon forums are a smart bunch and I like hearing different perspectives on things. Not just in a roon context.

Today I mocked up a playback screen and posted it. Do I expect roon to build it? Nope. Do I hope they discuss it themselves (and I’ll probably never know) - yep. Again, I suspect they will watch comments on things on the forums and use that as their personas and use cases when taking decisions.

1 Like

Found this quote, seems to apply:

Product differentiation, by itself, has become indefensible because today’s competitors can copy your better, faster, cheaper features virtually instantly. Now, the only thing they can’t replicate is the trust that customers feel for you and your team.

From article about a customer sales and support platform called Drift: https://medium.com/the-mission/the-best-sales-pitch-ive-seen-all-year-7fa92afaa248

It’s not just about product features…

2 Likes

Great thread. Been reading most of it.

Just to weight my opinion in:

I agree with Anders in the sense that a relatively seamless experience across platforms and devices wherever one may be should be a priority. A tidal based mobile version, working on Android and IOS, to begin with would be very cool, with cloud based core database access so we can migrate playlists and maintain mods and edits between devices.

Further development can come later as regards streaming directly from our own personal HDD’s, as unlimited high bandwidth becomes more and more the norm for mobile users. I am lucky in Switzerland to have unlimited access to 4g in even remote locations. I’ve been traveling around for business lately within Switzerland and have been using Tidal HiFi in the car without glitching once. But I am aware that this ideal is not there for everyone yet! This will take time to become viable to a good majority.

I absolutely agree with Anders’ comments and observations here:

"The world is not centered on affluent middle-aged white guys whose lifestyle revolves around a giant hifi altar in their homes. " - haha. this touched a nerve as my own evolution has seen change in this regard, from the “altar” to maybe 4 listening locations with decent average setups in each and one “on the move” setup. I deem all of them important listening points for my use and to have seamless Roon access at each would be great indeed.

I also feel that, in addition to this aspect there should be greater focus on social aspects within Roon itself.

One only needs to look at the huge impact Facebook and Youtube have had on our societies to realise that people need interaction with people. I would urge the team at Roon to consider being able to add sharable comments to albums/tracks and artists, no need to re-invent the wheel, and this can be completely optional; ie turned off or on in options. But the potential is huge here… further refinements and additions to this can come later and the only limit is lack of imagination.

Socialisation is something lacking in all the streaming services and music player software; why not set the precedent and leap forward into new territory?

Just my 2 penneth :slight_smile:

1 Like

Like Jeff Bezos said in the link you posted - customer obsession is the top priority for Amazon. He says obsession, not service. He isn’t writing his business model he’s writing cultural values for Amazon.

Product does play a part - customer obsession was #1 but he goes on to talk about embracing new technologies and rapid decision making.

Embrace new technologies - again he spoke of these in the sense of things like drones for delivery but also AWS. This thread is about embracing technologies. Internal tools for roon (not discussed here) and product. Like the social aspect…

Wisdom of crowds. There’s a term which in the right context is great. In the wrong one it’s like “blue sky thinking”. A cliche that gets thrown about. But for roon the wisdom of crowds does make sense in terms of discoverability of music and sharing of music.

Where it doesn’t make sense is in relation to 3. Don’t build products by committee. I love on the forums we can discuss things like this - but I don’t expect us to reach consensus and then roon to say “ok. Let’s build it”. For one we won’t reach consensus - I haven’t seen it anywhere on the forums yet nor do I expect to. But there is something to be said for “fail fast” in product development. Kinda like the move from waterfall to agile. roon is pretty slow between point releases (but quick with builds). I think that could be a factor in folks resistance to change (like the mobile playback - folks were quite vocal at one point about the playback screen. And about the mobile app) but have gone quiet. Folks who are happy may regard a change as “if I don’t like it I have to live with it for 18 months” and others who did want change might be thinking “I’ll try again in 18 months time”. Hopefully they haven’t left.

Product isn’t about features - as you say. For me it is about experiences. It should be emotional. Get that right and it feeds customer obsession, can embrace new technologies and support faster decisions. Competitors can - and will - copy features. And if what you’ve built your product on is features then you will have no differentiation. Make experience central to your business and your product and folks can’t copy that. With the mock-up I did (which I am not saying is great) isn’t much in terms of new features but using touch more, and consolidating existing features into playback so they are accessible without leaving playback. To me that could (could) support an experience. Wire framing and mockups are useful for that.

In the new cloud world we had teams and did weekly builds. Teams could integrate new features weekly and it would go out on a beta build. Customers on that could give feedback on that and it would help determine the use cases and features that made the cut. The beta builds were rough but low effort. Fail fast. And celebrate failure. Genuinely. Not in a cliche sense. Celebrate it as learning more about the users.

It is great to see the roon guys very active on the forums the last couple of days.

2 Likes

Yes, you and I are on the same page. My point earlier up the thread was more that staying experience-oriented becomes harder and harder as the original produce matures and new competitors come in… that Roon, in particular, is going to have a tough time as they get more popular and different customers are looking for different things.

I am a streamer – I value the musical quality (to a point), enhanced meta-data, the perhaps misguided hope that more streaming sources will get added. Other customers appreciate the diverse hardware support, the encouragement of inexpensive, high quality end points, DSP, etc. etc. Getting the right mix over time is a challenge (and will be fun to see how it evolves).

EDIT: My top needs at the moment:

  • more stability with Tidal over Sonos (this might be unique to me and Roon is helping me to work through it)
  • Tidal playlists not being editable from within Roon
  • No Spotify
  • The Tidal and Spotify points are because I use them remote [the original point of this thread]. If a good remote option was available in Roon for Tidal, then my need could change.

I know that my list doesn’t match many people’s list, but its a good opportunity to be able to put my voice into the mix for Roon.

1 Like

Maybe it is the experience of the guys on the team, maybe the number of competitors already in the market, but it does feel like roon is approaching that “crossing the chasm” (Geoffrey Moore https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Chasm-Marketing-Technology-Mainstream/dp/1841120634). They’ve had the “techies” and the tinkerers. There are the early adopters. But we are getting more to the point of “Player x does this, why don’t you?”. And for that roon has to market itself - “we’re different. And this is why we believe we are doing the right thing…”. Or alternatively move towards the pack. I’d love to see them continuing to extend things and innovate away from the pack :slight_smile:

1 Like

And people say they are confused by Hi-Fi speak… :grinning::grinning:

2 Likes

But what do we do when our TLA goes MIA?

1 Like

Oh, please let Roon Labs continue to march to the beat of a different drum. Moving with the pack I would not like to see. And that’s not just because I’m an old-school elderly audiophile. I realise that Roon Labs will do things that are of little interest to me, but they’ll do it because they need and should do it (mobile for example). So long as I can continue to ride on their coattails, I’ll do it with pleasure.

3 Likes

I don’t think many folks on the forum would like to see roon march to the packs drum. But the question I have is “describe roon in 1 sentence…”

“Roon is implemented on RAAT, a protocol which allows the music to be streamed to a device and that device clock determines…” - that’s technology. That appeals to your innovators (techies).

“Roon is a multi-room, audiophile music player…” - but those are features. That appeals to your early adopters (visionaries). They see the potential and fill in the gaps because they’re willing to invest the time in it. Like a lot of things here the solution is “use tags…”. That requires effort and if you’re on a 14 day trial and not totally motivated, will you do it?

The closest I find is on the website which is “Roon. The music player for music lovers”. Why does it matter to me? Because almost everyone on this forum is an innovator or an early adopter. We are able to see value and buy into that value without being marketed to. But I increasingly get the sense that roon is in a crowded market and getting noticed by the early majority (pragmatists), possibly even elements of late majority.

“Roon is a multi-room…” Oh. So you mean Sonos? “Well, no, see it isn’t tied to a single manufacturer…”. Ah. Ok. Got it. You mean like Airplay…
“No, it is also a music player…” Yeah, I took a look at it, and I’ve used HQAudiRiver and it lacks a bunch of things that they have…they need to build those things…

If roon believes they are different, unique and that they are passionate about it and want to share that passion, they’ll have to market it to the early majority. Evoke emotion, express clearly why it is different, and why it matters so that the “can’t fill in the blanks” market don’t have to. We are beyond relying on folks filling in the gaps now.

That’s my take. If they fail to do that, then I fear they will need to run with the pack out of necessity.

3 Likes

A friend of my points out that we are all familiar with Moore’s law, about exponentially more powerful hardware. But there is a second Moore’s law, referring to a Jeffrey Moore, which will become more important in the coming phase.

1 Like

Good analysis.
Personally, I’m a music lover, and hence the feature I show people is the metadata, specifically following the relationship graph of musicians which helps me discover and explore my own library and the greater world. This remains unique. People who say that Apple and Spotify have metadata have not grasped the power of Roon’s approach.

But we have that. And we have the technical attributes that you correctly point out are not differentiable in the long or even medium term. Necessary but not differentiable.

That’s why I am now focusing on what is the only remaining serious gap for me, and a total adoption blocker for many younger people: mobile use.

I have two kids in their thirties. One is a musician and a serious student of the history of jazz, loves Roon. The other uses music the way others do, streaming and mobile, and has no interest in Roon, he declined the offer of a gift subscription. In the industry we have used “doesn’t pass the gift test” as the most devastating put down.

5 Likes