I kinda figured Sonos was content to let people use an iPod Touch or iPhone to control their beloved wireless audio system, but lo, here's a $350 capacitive-touch second-gen controller, leaked from their own product pages, to prove me wrong.
Most of the sales pitch on the somewhat pricey CR200 matches that of the free iPhone/iPod Touch app: Wireless multi-room control of ZonePlayers throughout the house, quick access to music, automatic updates bring new features. With capacitive touch glass screen, 2-5 days of battery life, rugged body and removable battery, the thing beats hell out of the old-school scroll-wheel CR100, and is justifiable as a standalone product, if there wasn't a "free" alternative.
But there's one claim that seems to be a dig at that the iPhone app alternative: "100% dedicated to multi-room music." I don't know whether they think the delay getting from a iPhone's home screen to the Sonos options is annoying (k, it is a little bit) or whether they fear your significant other will go for a jog and take the iTouch with her/him, leaving you controller-less (it could happen), but they definitely view a single-function controller as a boon.
I am sensing two takeaways: The first is that, since Sonos sells a lot of product at the custom-installer level, those installers need some cool upgrades to go and sell to their rich clients who already have ZonePlayers in all 14 bedrooms of their mansion. God love 'em, that's fine. The other is that Sonos might spend more time on its potentially profitable CR200 than on its more populist iPhone app, and a divide may emerge.
So, Sonos: Please continue to support and develop the free iPhone app, which makes your product line accessible to people on a budget, and we will continue to write up things like this leaked CR200, which may not be for everyone, but makes sense in some cases. [Yanked Sonos Product Page via Engadget]