Bluetooth vs Airplay

I've written a fair bit about how we are using technologies like Bluetooth and Airplay in our homes and cars to connect our tablets and phones to our cars and home entertainment systems.

I've thought Airplay was the winning model because Apple is pushing it hard and integrating it into their product line across the board. Plus Airplay supports higher bandwidth applications like video and covers greater distances.

But an experience I had this week makes me take pause on that assumption. Our newest car has excellent bluetooth audio capabilities. Everyone's phones are paired to it and anytime anyone wants to take control of the car audio with their phone (iPhone or Android), they can play any audio app they want on their phone and the music plays in our car. This is true of most of the cars coming off the factory floors these days.

My son is particularly fond of taking control of the audio in the car and DJing. Yesterday he asked me why he couldn't do the same thing with our home entertainment system, which is built on Sonos. We have an airport express in the line-in on the Sonos and we can Airplay from iTunes. But that doesn't support Android phones and not all third party mobile apps support Airplay. Airplay is not ubiquitous in the way that Bluetooth is.

So I just bought this logitech bluetooth audio adapter and am going to swap out the airport express for this bluetooth adapter and see how my family reacts to that. I am betting that by replicating the experience they have in the car in our home, they will take control of our home music system with their phones in the same way they do in our car.

This shows the power of an open protocol like Bluetooth vs a proprietary protocol like Airplay. Airplay is a superior technology but it's lack of ubiquity may mean that it doesn't win the market in the end. We will see.


Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    i really think the winners in the open vs closed beef will be integrated solutions built atop open systems. kindle is a prime example and perhaps google nexus could be viewed as such as well. as ecosystems get more complex an integrated solution that is easy to use grows in value, but the cost savings of building atop an open foundation cannot be ignored — and i imagine a world in which many federated networks share the same open framework will be easier for developers and will minimize cross-platform development headaches.

  2. Bob S

    we have that same logitech adapter. just used it for a whole week at a rented vacation lake house. we had our music all week from iTunes on an iPad played through the logitech box onto the house’s home stereo. Perfect.

    1. fredwilson

      wow. that makes me feel great about my purchase

      1. Matthew Baker

        Sounds like a solution I’ve been looking for, too.

  3. Rohan

    You’re on an iOS vs Android roll of late. :)I don’t think Airplay is designed to ‘win’ the market. In fact, I don’t think any iOS device/technology is designed to ‘win’ the market.They are designed to be the best in the market and to inspire a cult-like following second to none by staying true to what they believe in, as a philosophy (changing the status quo).At the end of the day, my feeling is that Android will be akin to Windows.. they will arguably have a greater impact in equipping the world with smart phones than Apple will.But, I think Apple will continue to push the boundaries..and the rest of the pack will dutifully follow..(I own and love a laptop that runs Windows. I love Microsoft Outlook and the Office suite. That said, I also have and love an iPhone.. and recently got an iPad. So, not an Apple cult member by any stretch.. but I do admire their ability to ship great products.)

    1. Aaron Klein

      Pray tell which make and model of windows computer you love! Switched to the MacBook air over a year ago because I couldn’t find one.

      1. Rohan

        Aaaron!Long time. :)I’ve been using a Lenovo ideapad Y570 as personal computer and really like it. This is a big monitor laptop and sort of heavy.Have been using smaller Lenovo/dell’s laptop for work (forgot the Dell model and don’t have it right now.. damn)- light, easy when traveling.One of my biggest criteria when evaluating laptops is the keyboard.. and must say my Ideapad nails that. Of late, however, have been using the laptop as a part of a standing desk workstation (…, nevertheless.. still love it! How are you finding the Macbook air?

        1. Mark Essel

          Your original comment nailed it and perfy’s reply was enlightening Apple is pushing Airplay on it’s devices but also Bluetooth for general communication. Just wanted to chime in while you chat with @aaronklein:disqus and say that the retina macbook’s keyboard isn’t too shabby. I used to own and air and enjoyed that as well (very convenient), but it didn’t have enough horsepower to do all the image processing I do now for work, let alone hosting virtual machines (running ubuntu like our aws servers).I’m a desktop/big keyboard kinda guy though so I prefer my old Dell usb keyboard.

          1. Aaron Klein

            Mac keyboards are amazing. Makes me wish they had applied their innovative genius to a keyboard on the iPhone and iPad.

          2. Rohan

            Ha. So I am told! (about the amazing mac! :D)

        2. Aaron Klein

          I love the Air. You can pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.I am a single computer kind of guy. As good as the cloud is, I prefer having one amazing and powerful computer that works beautifully at home, on an airplane, or plugged into a screen and keyboard on my desk.Windows PCs have gotten light years better in just the year and a half that I’ve been gone, but I can’t imagine ever switching back. If the Surface Pro had existed back then, I tend to wonder if I’d gone to the Mac, though.

          1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            very difficult to switch back to PCs once you have gotten used to a Mac. I have been PC free for 5 years and despite hearing better reviews regarding PC laptops – I am not tempted to switch back. Different story for mobile devices – I still have not developed any loyalty for one particular OS

          2. Aaron Klein

            Same here re: mobile.

          3. Rohan

            Wow. Now that’s a fan talking!

      2. Techman

        Instead of investing your money on an overpriced Ultrabook – why not try something new? Ever heard of System76? They sell Ubuntu preinstalled machines — and at affordable prices. They are based in Denver. Their website is

        1. Aaron Klein

          So the Linux people are doing spam now to stay alive. How quaint.

          1. Techman

            I’m not spamming, just showing you that there are other products besides Apple. They seem to hold a lot of the market, and many people think that there are only Macs to resort to when their Windows machines don’t work. Just to set the record straight – I have used Apple products before ;-).

          2. Aaron Klein

            Fair enough. Wasn’t sure if you were a real person or a bot. :)As for how much I love the MacBook Air, you can pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. ๐Ÿ™‚

          3. Techman

            I’m not a bot; a bot doesn’t write and maintain a website. Like I said before, there are other alternatives if you feel that your MB Air is not good enough for you. Ubuntu is actually a good distro; you can run it in a virtual machine on the MB Air, just saying ๐Ÿ˜‰

          4. Aaron Klein

            A bot also doesn’t reply intelligently. I read your first comment on my phone, so I wasn’t sure. As for Ubuntu, I already run two operating systems on my Mac and have absolutely zero need or desire to entangle myself with another! But thanks.

    2. perfy

      If you look at this as iOS vs Android, you are missing the boat.…Look towards the bottom of the page. Not only is Apple on the Board of Directors for the organization governing Bluetooth, but look at all of the firsts they have wrt Bluetooth.Apple releases the first two computers (MacMini and MacBook Air) with Bluetoothv4.0 technology in JulyApple announces that the new iPhone 4S will support Bluetooth v4.0 and become the first Bluetooth Smart Ready phoneApple releases the first Bluetooth Smart Ready tablet, the new iPad

      1. William Wagner

        Airplay is software anyway; it’s a completely different beast from Bluetooth

      2. Rohan

        Fair enough. thanks for the link.Perhaps the comparison ought not to have been made then, in the first place. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Vineeth Kariappa

    What music do u listen to?

    1. fredwilson

      All kinds. All the time.

      1. Techman

        Even Techno? My favorite Techno artist is the 009 Sound System.

  5. Conrad Ross Schulman

    Your son is going to be the next avicii!!!Wouldn’t it be cool if he could control the radio too? or the music playing on the streets? or what about the music in the clubs?

  6. Matthew Baker

    You make an excellent point regarding proprietary vs. open source that I believe may apply almost universally. Open source technologies have a lower cost of entry (Airplay devices were way overpriced when I last looked) and therefore allow them to become more ubiquitous. They also tend to have a wider support base that is crowdsourced by its very nature.The big fears nowadays with proprietary systems are the ‘what ifs’. If I buy into this now, what happens if the whole platform goes bust and I’m left with all this baggage? If it’s open source this isn’t an issue. With open source those who rely on it will either agree to deprecate it as a community and move collectively in a new direction, or they will continue to maintain it themselves (sometimes a collection thereof). With proprietary or for-pay systems you’ll be out of luck. Maybe if more proprietary vendors would pledge to open source their products when they end of life they would have better reception from paying customers.Does the bluetooth connection allow multiple audio channels or does the device just treat it as though it is a bluetooth headset? Usually this results in a mono audio stream that leaves a lot to be desired in some situations.

    1. fredwilson

      Good question at the end of your comment on mono vs stereo. I will find out.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Bluetooth can support stereo depending on the A2DP profile. I assume any music BT application will support stereo

        1. Matthew Baker

          Yes, I just came across the same thing. I guess technology progresses even if you’re not watching it :). From what I can find both Android and iOS 3.0+ should support it (BT v2.1)

  7. BillMcNeely

    The hands free , voice command was what sold people on Bluetooth in my experience selling cars. Do you think that will be so in the home?

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t know. But I am going to find out.

  8. William Mougayar

    I also have a new car that has the latest Bluetooth hookup, and it’s been a real pleasure using it paired to my iPhone for streaming audio so easily. Actually it’s done via the MEDIA button which connects to a choice of of USB, Bluetooth, CD, iPod or Aux.ย What I want now is video replication on the car’s console from the iPhone.ย 

    1. LE

      “and it’s been a real pleasure using it paired to my iPhone for streaming audio so easily.”I keep a 2nd old iphone hard connected in the car by USB. And I found the sound quality is much better by USB than by bt. I don’t like using my primary phone (which has the same music) by bluetooth (and I assume this saves battery as well for that matter).(The car can do by bluetooth..)

      1. William Mougayar

        That’s a good idea. Does the USB connection provide equal sound quality as the AUX?

        1. LE

          I haven’t had good results on past cars with AUX. That may be specific to my car or situation though. I’ve also found that CD’s sound better than BT as well.What I recommend (and would do) is simply test all three methods by playing the same few songs that you know well. It’s entirely possible that the way a particular manufacturer implements things would make a difference and you can’t generalize.I’ve also learned that there is something with the particular files on the iphone that can be changed that will enhance the sound (similar in a way that a photo is jpeg’d and reduced in size.). I haven’t researched it because I don’t spend that much time in the car so whatever I have now is good enough (My drive to work is a few minutes..)

  9. Roger Ellman

    Could be a solution for my wishes for music playing too. I want also to play music from a laptop on the same setup….hope it can be configured to give iphone/ipad/laptop as source, if so… that’s it, that’s everything.

  10. Clay Hebert

    I wonder if it’s an accident that the Logitech adapter looks 90% like an Apple TV. #designtoremind

  11. LE

    “Bluetooth vs Airplay”As an aside “airplay”as a name for this product in this situation is not a good name choice. My opinion.Not distinct enough. Same wishy washy feeling as hair salons – “David Christopher” or housing developments – “Seaside View”, or restaurants – “Casa Blanca”, that is non-memorable. Can’t evaluate “bluetooth” objectively as it’s already established but it is certainly distinct and memorable. (Hey was I at “villa blanca” or “casa blanca” two weeks ago??)Apple has definitely had some hits with product names (iphone, ipod, ipad, itunes particularly because the first, ipod name was distinct) but also misses. Like Mac Pro vs. Mac Book Pro.Here were Mac names in 1989:…And here is pre-jobs return (by a bit..):…And post jobs by a few years:

    1. awaldstein

      People don’t buy Airplay, they buy Airport express or Apple TV.AirPlay name today in their strategy is not well connected to their brand or their product strategy. Technology wise critical. Standalone tech branded component not so IMO.The center of the Apple world is the device.

  12. kenberger

    The main component killing the new Sony and Vizio GoogleTV offerings (in competing with AppleTV) is their lack of an Airplay equivalent. Supposedly this functionality is being introduced this year as an upgrade to those products. Supposedly.I wish it could actually be Airplay. We all know why it should be. We all know why it almost certainly won’t be. would love to be wrong.

  13. kenberger

    re the iTunes with Sonos, Josh could just use the Android iTunes Remote app and control 1 of the mac’s or pc’s iTunes:

  14. kenberger

    Re other companies licensing Airplay: I’m suddenly impressed with Boxee. With the iPad’s youtube app, I’ve been outputting the content to Boxee and finding it working at least as well as outputting to AppleTV.With the iPad Boxee app, when I output video to the boxee box, I seem to get full 5.1 audio and maybe a better picture. that app also lets me output to ATV, but the sound is only stereo.the only use I now find for the ATV is to mirror mountain lion or ipad.

  15. JLM

    .The big story here is the standardization of all things digital. What you have described is the convergence of standardization — car, home, vacation location, phone, etc.I have been using a bluetooth ear piece with a Nexus 7 — inspired by your post on this device — for phone calls both Skype and VOIP. When I have a lot of calls to make, I just line them up sit on my office couch and knock them out. Moleskine notebook at hand, of course.The Nexus form factor is the big win. And it was only $200.I have a bluetooth back of the head headset and the sound quality — used mostly for music and not so much for phone calls — is out of this world. Cost less than $100.The proof of the pudding is that you just sold one more unit. I just ordered one of these Logitech audio adapters. Logitech is a great company.This is an unbelievable time to be alive as it relates to the development of digital doo dads and the ability to use them in odd ways.Yours has become an expensive but very stimulating friendship, Fred. Any other doo dads that need buying?.

    1. fredwilson

      you are a geek JLM!

      1. JLM

        .I admit to being a very quick second wave implementer. I am following your lead on this. True statement and one my greatest pleasures about really am a hopeless gadget guy and the convergence of everything is just unbelievable.I am really enjoying all the new apps and the means for creating more than a bit of efficiency.As an aside, though the FAA frowns on much of this — iPad apps replace about $50,000 worth of equipment and stuff on a private airplane — radios, weather, radar, GPS, charts, approach plates, messaging. And the list goes on.Most of my friends of my age are almost technology illiterate and it is fun to help them along — blind leading the blind to be honest.The other day I was having a Skype call arranging something about a football game weekend and it was so funny to follow the conversation. It was the first Skype call for 3 of the 5 participants. Now I can’t get them off the computer calling me all the time.Can you imagine where we will all be in 5 years?You will walk into your bathroom to shave and all of your digital life will be on the mirror waiting for you..

        1. fredwilson

          I shave in the shower ๐Ÿ˜‰

          1. JLM

            .OK, so it will be on the shower door..

        2. John Clyman

          I’m just getting back into flying after a several-year hiatus, and still just scratching the surface of everything an iPad and apps can do for pre-flight planning. Between that and the capabilities of the G1000 “glass cockpit” gear, it’s mind-blowing. But I’ve been warned not to rely on the iPad for in-flight use, and not just because of the FAA: Apparently it will not function at a density altitude above 10,000 feet.

          1. JLM

            .I have never heard that about 10K D/A.Even the FAA’s preflight planning software is pretty good.It all depends on the nature of your flying. I do a lot of inside Texas, Texas to Colorado and Texas to East Coast flying and have for several years. You get to know every airport, nav aid and ATC station all along the way.You also get a good handle on weather patterns.I think the big assist for the iPad is emergency info/equipment, situational awareness and back up.There are great number of powerful apps out there.You can get NexRad and other weather in great detail but I just don’t fly that close to trouble in the first place. I have flown my fair share of summer afternoon rising CNs to know things can change fast.I do like it for charts and approaches but again, I know my way around and I have a Garmin 430/530 which provides the same info. I will usually just fly an ILS and break out at 1,000′.The form factor of the iPad is great particularly if you are flying with a co-pilot or a savvy passenger.Good flying to you, pilot..

      2. Techman

        Lots of us are — including me. I even have a website that covers geeky stuff.

        1. fredwilson

          Well you know I am!

          1. Techman

            Have you ever seen my website before? I cover lots of tech stuff, probably more than you do.

    2. John Revay

      JLM – what was bluetooth head set you referenced.I am thinking about dumping my iPhone and trying a Nexus/Bria

      1. Mark Essel

        I’m thinking of using my iphone with bria too (i use gv connect, google voice, and talkatone but it’s unreliable for receiving calls)

      2. JLM

        .I have a couple of nice Plantronics single ear units and the double ear unit is a Skech BTH561 (I think that is the new model number, the one I have is a bit older but very good).I also used a Jabra double ear unit that was great.These all have wind shielded mics, so they are very good.My big problem is losing them all the time.I am still in study mode on the Bria app..



      1. Techman

        I have a Logitech Keyboard (K120). It works good. I don’t use their wireless devices, though. I’m just saying that they make a pretty good keyboard.- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – On the wireless side, I have the Samsung WEP450. That device only costed me $30, and it is real easy to use. Good sound quality, easy to pair, and easy to operate. I can always count on Samsung products.

      2. JLM

        .I have had great luck w Logitech but then I don’t ever threaten to eat the salespersons. Who knows?I notice that all the newer mobile devices pair and connect much easier than just a year ago..

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. JLM

            .I have had flawless luck with wireless keyboard, lazer mouse, bluetooth devices and HD web cams. I just purchased a couple of HC C920 1080I/p webcams and they are fabulous.I have never had a problem with their products..

          2. thinkdisruptive

            I’ve noticed that tech types prefer higher quality, but the masses vote on price. And, even many who appreciate quality can’t afford it, or don’t have the option (as Fred describes above). The standards-based cheap solution will always win (disrupt the market) in the long run. So, Apple will do fine as long as they can maintain a quality level where “everything just works”, and continue to invent things that are well-integrated and show the competition the new model for doing it right. But, others using standards that are “good enough” will eventually win the category, even if Apple defines it.

          3. LissIsMore

            Well said, O Fake One

          4. markslater

            bang on. i have a logitech mouse – great. tried a web cam – rubbish. race to bottom it is

      3. CJ

        “EVERYTHING THEM MAKE, SAME QUALITY LEVEL.” – Yes, mediocre. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m being sarcastic but what I mean is Apple excels in some key points but then everything else suffers. Ever seen a iPhone with a cracked screen? Yeah – me too, all over. Just one example of how so much thought was put into a phone that was eventually given a fatal flaw…a weak screen.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. CJ

            No, just higher quality Gorilla Glass it seems or there is a design issue with the phone itself that makes it more prone to the screen breaking when dropped than other, similar phones. It could also be that they include two glass panels per phone where other phones only include one. Not sure exactly which is correct, but there are more cracked screens on iPhones than any other phone.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. CJ

            Here’s a 2010 study that compares the iPhone 4, the first to use the glass back, with the 3GS.…Here’s another that claims that 42% of iPhone owners are using an iPhone with a cracked screen.…The first is as close as I could find speedily that fits your criteria, the second one I just thought was interesting.

          4. sprugman

            42%? That can not possibly be true, or I would know a ton of people using iPhones with cracked screens. The only one I know is my girlfriend who using using an old 3GS and counting the days till the iPhone 5 comes out.

    4. Guest

      JLM,You might want to plug in the ol’ phone and instruct American Bingo that this from Facebook sounds a little like child labor and there might be laws against that:”Want a better chance of winning Bingo? Bring the kids and put them to work for you!”Might have been better off with something about “sharing the fun” with the kids on family night.Just saying…..

      1. JLM

        .Carl —Not sure what this has to do with Bluetooth v Airplay or my comment but I am sure I must be missing something obvious.We own the real estate and the charities conduct the bingo so this is really on their FB page.Nonetheless, I can see where this is a HUGE problem — fabulous get on your part really, my friend — but then again maybe not.Thanks for the proof reading. I will pass it along to the charities..

        1. Techman

          Off topic, but why do you put spaces between your comments?

          1. JLM

            .For some reason when I post a longish comment — particularly when using a mobile device — the paragraphs all run together.When I put a “period” at the beginning and the end, they do not.I learned this from some Disqus tip. This may have been an early version issue..

          2. Techman

            Yeah, I guess so. Can you try again? I post really long comments often, and i don’t get the paragraphs “squished” together.

          3. JLM

            .Happened just this morning on a Nexus 7. Habit now, really..

          4. Techman

            Hmm…that sounds odd. Have you tried telling Disqus of your experiences? @danielha:disqus @tyler:disqus

        2. Guest

          I was doing my weekend visit to Facebook, disqus, and all of the various AVC’ers projects and I read the comment and then I ventured over to AVC where you had just commented and I forwarded my opinion to you.Sorry about that. I won’t deviate from the subject matter in the future.

        3. Guest

          Lets see, “but then again maybe not…” does that refer to “fabulous get on your part…” or on “my friend?”If you weren’t a friend, which is what everyone at AVC claims this community is all about, what social engagement is all about, and why we have these conversations via the internet for, then exactly why do we participate?Its kind of like that popular word, “transparency” which someone from AVC used multiple times in a conversation in regards to what they expect from others in their business dealings and yet I seriously doubt there was any such thing on his part in his conversations with me.If I take the time to communicate with you on my free time then it has to be based on friendship as it is my “free” time and thus nothing in it of gain for me.

  16. William Mougayar

    Is there a bluetooth equivalent for video ? Or is that called AppleTV or Boxee?

    1. fredwilson

      Google is working on something. Hopefully they will make it fully open

      1. William Mougayar

        Yeah! Thx

    2. perfy

      As of right now there isn’t. There are difficult bandwidth obstacles to overcome.

      1. William Mougayar

        Coupled with too many video encoding standards perhaps, as well.

  17. William Wagner

    For wireless telemetry and connectivity we have a contender in Xbee / Zigbee but I prefer using BT. Mainly because the cheapest *bee transceiver chip is about $8 while you can get BT system-on-chips (i.e. a complete computer with transceiver on a postage stamp sized package) for around a buck. And then the BT will connect to pretty much every other device without any fuckery, while the *bee requires dedicated hardware.Apple can mess around with their own proprietary wireless standards on the ISM, but it’s harder to imagine them creating a ubiquitous standard like BT unless they start licensing the hardware out, which would impinge on their closed garden situation

  18. perfy

    “This shows the power of an open protocol like Bluetooth vs a proprietary protocol like Airplay. Airplay is a superior technology but it’s lack of ubiquity may mean that it doesn’t win the market in the end. We will see.”Wrong assumption. BT has been around forever and is therefore more common. AirPlay is newer and superior. This would be like comparing dialup to broadband at a time when many people couldn’t get broadband, and then concluding dial up was better because all you needed was a phone line and a modem.

    1. fredwilson

      I agree airplay is superior and said so. But I find myself removing an airplay device and putting in a BT device. That tells me something

      1. perfy

        Because your specific situation is, well, specific. You only want audio, so BT works. Use the right tool for the job. Use a hammer when you need it, use a saw when you need it.

        1. thinkdisruptive

          Most people use an adjustable wrench for everything. Even when there is a specific tool that’s better. Only high-end users specialize.

      2. Wavelengths

        Betamax vs. VHS?

      3. steven75

        You also removed several abilities that AirPlay supports that BT does not. One (subjective) step forward, two steps back.

  19. RichardF

    We’ve done the same in one of our cars. I need to look to see if I can retro fit something for another one.It’s great to see a good use for bluetooth other than blue jacking

  20. Gregory Smith

    Hello Fred,I was led to your blog by Rand Fish, I haven’t had too much time to research while here, but have had time to look around. Great post , btw.If you don’t mind my asking, what better way to make your local community notice your blog, other than SEO, and all the more well-known techniques?Any help would be appreciated.Thank you.

  21. Timmy Siwula

    I use airplay for my iphone, ipad and mac on our living room tv and bluetooth in my vw with my iphone.The airplay is a little laggy when streaming video.Bluetooth works great in my car.Love them both~!Cant wait for wirless charging in the future :DTimmy

  22. Timmy Siwula

    Hey @fredwilson:disqus, how much do you average paying for voicebunny blog posts? I saw they were $70 standard with a bidding option.Thanks!Timmy

    1. fredwilson

      They do AVC for free but run a promo for voicebunny as a preroll

  23. msabuwala

    Fred the issue with bluetooth open channels has always been security issues. A proprietary vendor like apple can close a vulnerability and send updates but depending on the vendor how the bluetooth implementation has been done you are never secure. Do a google search for Bluesnarfing and you will see what I mean.

    1. John Revay

      Does Security matter much when streaming music



        1. John Revay

          HUMMM, that what you get when you have an accountant comment on it security items.

    2. Mark Essel

      so can we hijack Fred’s sound system?Rick Roll anyone

  24. John Revay

    Fred,1. I recall you once said that your children used iPhones and the GothamGal switched to Driod….so I am assuming your son is trying to easily stream music from a music app other than iTunes to the Airport Express> Sonos.2. I thought we talked about this last year and the solution was Airfoil…3. Earlier this year I thought I read some headline that Apple pulled Airfoil from the App store,3a. It looks like they yanked and then allowed it back x- one feature…4. I found an AVC post from 2010 ( before JohnRevay was a community member), when you first discovered Airfoil…What am I missing as I was getting ready to buy an airport express

    1. fredwilson

      Airfoil to airport express is what we use for laptops but we have not tried it on mobile

      1. John Revay

        AirBubble – Looks like it may have some warts – re: synch…AirBubble is a lightweight AirPlay audio receiver. It will appear in AirPlay applications (such as itunes) as a device you can play music to. It works in the background, streaming music to your Android device.

        1. fredwilson

          Hmm. I will check it out

        2. kenberger

          For Mac, Airfoil *was* a great solution, but its functionality is now effectively offered by Mountain Lion.AirBubble goes the wrong way– “device you can play music *to*”– only interesting if you actually want music to play on the phone rather than *from* the phone.

          1. John Revay

            Re: Plumbing- wrong way – yup I re read my comment after fred said he was going to check it out….and was concerned it would not do what he needed re: Driod to Air ExpressBefore this post I was planning on buying an Airport Express to play non itunes music from my iOS device – probably starting off w/ EX.FMAny thoughts – as Airport Express seems to be iTunes friendly…not sure about any other music/audio streams.

  25. John Revay

    “So I just bought this logitech bluetooth audio adapter”$39.99 At Amazon, vs $99 for the airport expressSo far 368 amazon reviews – 85% are 4 stars or better ( 65% – 5 star rating)

  26. Paul Sanwald

    This looks very cool, I’ve been thinking of revamping our small TV/stereo setup, and sonos looks great.Does anyone, Fred or otherwise, have a recommendation for a receiver? I have found receivers to be a bit like printers, and we had such an awesome thread on printers, I figure it can’t hurt to ask :).

  27. vruz

    Bluetooth is not really an “open standard”, it’s proprietary technology, you could say it’s more like a well managed de-facto standard though.Engineers at Ericsson invented it with inter operation in mind from the very start, and soon other companies like Nokia, Intel, Toshiba and IBM joined them to create a consortium called Bluetooth Special Interest GroupMore here:

    1. Mark Essel

      wow, that’s cool to know. could be license issues down the road then?

      1. vruz

        I don’t think so, not in the short term anyway, seems very unlikely. It’s been around for 14 years and there are many open implementations and plenty of prior art by dozens of makers. Plus IBM and Intel are some of the original SIG founders, that deterrent alone should be enough to keep trolls at bay.But this is a crazy world, if Microsoft ends up corroding Nokia to the core (which is a real possibility) I have no idea what they might attempt.Anyways, *at the moment*, it would be a very long shot.**All that** being said, it’s not really an “open standard” and even if a serious risk is not tangible right now, you have to be aware that it’s a non-zero risk situation.

      2. vruz

        Here’s the open implementation by Bluetooth SIG here:…You should be in the safe provided you use this and agree to their terms.Also note that I am not a lawyer. If you intend to use this in a big for-profit project you should probably ask a lawyer friend.

  28. Luke Chamberlin

    Out of stock! One to two month wait on Amazon.I needed something like this too, my Airport died a couple months ago.

    1. fredwilson

      There are plenty on ebay

  29. deepeshbanerji

    I definately support open protocols but Bluetooth’s pairing/handshake burden makes it quite annoying for multiple devices to connect to a music player. Has anyone figure this out?

    1. BillMcNeely

      Chrysler has. You can have up to seven devices in the car and prioritize them.

  30. Greg Biggers

    How is the audio quality?I would love to switch to Bluetooth in my car, and maybe even at home (though I think distance issues make wifi the necessary layer). My problem is the fidelity. Over BT, the bass is muddy and the high end is hissy. That is an unacceptable compromise when the higher fidelity source is less than 18 inches from the amp.Does anyone know of a Bluetooth with a lossless codec and full bass response? I would love to ditch the hardwire connection in the car.

    1. just a guy, yknow?

      aptX (csr) and AAC codecs make for good sounding Bluetooth audio. wideband speech profile (16kHz) instead of the usual 8kHz makes for good sounding calls. Almost nothing supports aptX (a few BT audio products and of all things, the Zune HD.) AAC and wideband speech is more widely supported due to the prevalence of Apple products. But again, the speaker and handsfree device also have to support it.

  31. OurielOhayon

    Fred Isn’t it a bit unfair to compare a protocol that has been around for 10 years and one launched less than 2 years ago ?

    1. fredwilson

      The brand new one is way better. Its just not in my cars and phones and apps. My point is ubiquity wins on stuff like this. Apple should make airplay available everywhere

      1. OurielOhayon

        Well it a really early but you can already find find a few great appliances AirPlay compatible. Yes open wins but Bluetooth is an old and limited technology which indeed is moreConvenient because ubiquitous but for example pairing is really tedious as switching multiple devices. AirPlay has a lot more potentialLet s give it some time

      2. OurielOhayon

        fred, i just discovered this great product line airplay compatible in a palo alto design store really great. I believe more and more manufacturers will adopt airplay as a standard and when this happens in mass it will outpace bluetooth in conveniency and ease of adoption from a consumer standpoint

  32. John Revay

    Moved comment to thread below,

  33. BillMcNeely

    A bit off topic but WI Fi/ SAT based internet packages are available on Jeep products (probably others too) just a few years ago this was $10-$25l option through the defense sector. Pretty crazy.

  34. mikenolan99

    How about a fun Friday post about the cars we drive? Would be an interesting sample…

    1. fredwilson

      good suggestion

  35. Jean-Louis Gassรฉe

    Video on Bluetooth? Comparing BT and Airplay?Strange misunderstanding of what these technologies are for. I can use AIrplay to switch a presentation from my MacBook or iPad to a big screen without a cable. BT is nice in my car or on my desk for a neat Bose SoundLink speaker (highly recommended).At the risk of being impolite or impolitic, do I detect a whiff of motivated reasoning? You know… the usual motif.

    1. fredwilson

      I am just talking about audio here

    2. thinkdisruptive

      It is “for” whatever it can be used for. It will win whenever it provides a cheaper, “good enough” solution that is open to others to build on.

  36. Techman

    I’d always prefer Bluetooth to AirPlay. One reason why is because of its just Apple. It is also most likely proprietary, and Apple may force device makers to buy a license to use it.Bluetooth is found in almost ever device these days — even personal computers. Sure the distance is not far, but who says there can’t be a new standard that has an increased range, or just apply more power to the transmitter to boost the signal range.

  37. mdhughes

    The real question is why do you hate your children so much you’d give them Android junk instead lf iPhones or iPods touch?

    1. Techman

      Apple “junk” is overpriced. Android devices are just as good. In reality, though, it just comes down to personal preference.

    2. fredwilson

      They have iPhones. All three of them. My wife and I prefer androids. My wife tried iPhone twice in the past year and came back to android both times. I think its the Google apps on android. They are so good. My kids don’t value calendar mail and docs the way we do.

      1. kidmercury

        no worries they are still young in time they will achieve the wisdom that you and gotham gal have earned and will turn away from the dark side of apple and towards the light of android freedom. i’m sure it is tough as a parent to see your kids embrace iSlavery but alas some wisdom can only be acquired through age and direct experience

  38. Ben Apple

    Are there any restaurants, bars, stores, etc. that allow users to take control of the music in that way, like a modern jukebox? I always thought that would be kind of cool, where a user could log in and throw a song in the queue. If that doesn’t exist, it should.

    1. Techman

      While that could be cool, it most likely wouldn’t due to everybody having different tastes in music. Those people who have a problem would either complain or leave, and businesses would loose money.

      1. Ben Apple

        Its a jukebox! No one ever left a place because people played bad music- And the music could be preset on a computer, people could log in and choose- I think its a cool idea

    2. fredwilson

      i have seen at least a dozen startups doing that. none of them succeeded.

  39. John Revay

    Thinking about this post during dinner….I was ready post a comment about range…thinking that Bluetooth was short range – re: personal network vs Airplay which is over wi-fi…and I found a great article on the topic – CNET seems to be suggesting blue tooth is winning – for several reasons.

  40. Gregory Magarshak

    It would be awesome to make something like our social jukebox but for ipods / iphones / android phones.

  41. hypermark

    I think that this line of reasoning presents a false dichotomy. Bluetooth is really just transport, whereas Airplay is a part of a larger hardware-software platform. If I am buying a new car or re-doing my family room, I am focused on leverage with my existing content and the composite experience.

  42. Riaz Kanani

    couldn’t agree more – an open protocol is also beneficial to the wider market place and drives greater innovation over time. Bluetooth’s implementation historically has been clunky though and along with its battery draining capabilities – it hasnt succeeded yet. It gets better every year though.,

  43. kenberger

    I’m totally with you in theory. In reality, expectations should be tempered by:1. As you said, AirPlay covers greater distances. In your car, you’re all forced to be very close to each other, so BT is fine. At home, BT is heavily constrained by range and interference (I used to have a team that measured this stuff, and yes BT has improved lately).2. Bluetooth compresses audio, so the sound might not be as good as w/ AirPlay/Wi-Fi which doesn’t compress (of course, mp3 and most other wireless streaming audio are already compressed).

  44. rafisyed

    probably already been mentioned, but BT will have a totally different physical range than AirPlay (i.e. your home’s wifi network). I like the idea, and have really struggled with AirPlay, but wonder if BT will work for this application

  45. His Shadow

    The cranial density required to believe AirPlay is required or designed to compete against Bluetooth is dangerously close to Chandrasekhar’s limit.

  46. Spoonmuppet

    We also have an Airport plugged into one of our Sonos line-in ports. Don’t really use it. If anybody wants to take hold of the home stereo they just access our Spotify account through the Sonos app (iOS, Android or Nokia) and they’re away.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, but there is no soundcloud app on sonos, no app on sonos, no turntable app on sonos, etc, kids have a ton of music apps on their phones that play in the car but not on sonos

  47. Ryan Stenson

    Can you use bluetooth to stream to multiple receivers? I love being able to use airplay to play either from my computer or iphone/ipad to receivers all over the house. With your sonos set up, you enable this in the second step, but thats a different technology from Bluetooth.

  48. Terp Fotografi

    Is Security important when streaming music.Terp

  49. andyidsinga

    been playing with smart watches from Wimm Labs ( , Metawatch ( and Im Watch ( – all have bluetooth support. The first two I’ve connected without a problem to my android phone (just got the Im Watch device today ..just starting to eval that one).The Metawatch is particularly cool for geeky embedded software types because their code is open source and available on github.Fun times. Bluetooth is also quite good on power.[edit: ps. backed the pebble and cookoo watches on kickstarter ..both have bluetooth]

    1. William Mougayar

      You geek. I’m going to check these out.

      1. andyidsinga


      2. andyidsinga

        wow – anther bluetooth watch on kickstarter – very retro – this one has voice commands :

  50. Judd Morgenstern

    In addition to bandwidth considerations, have to consider pairing from UX perspective. AirPlay ‘just works’ whereas most bluetooth devices I’ve used require awkward setup or pin entry. Benefit of Apple’s closed system, all the devices & software play nicely.Also, new version of Mac OS includes AirPlay mirroring on OS level, so you can easily mirror your computer display to TV display using Airport…This means browser (and HBOGO, Netflix, Vimeo, Rdio, etc) on your home entertainment system. And that is HUGE.

  51. Dan Abdinoor

    I had the same experience recently. I rented a current year Camry while on a trip and it had great bluetooth pairing. It was totally seamless and so much less painful than the last time I had to pair a device with bluetooth.At home I have an Airport express, but I do not use Airplay that much. If I had anything other than an iPhone I would probably pick up one of those Logitech boxes, too.

  52. Joe Lazarus

    I love Bluetooth in the car. How is the Logitech adapter working out for you?

    1. fredwilson

      its on backorder