Apple Bonjour: Secret Weapon?

Apple logo Bonjour

Bonjour is Apple’s implementation of Zeroconf that is included with Mac OS X. Bonjour is a service discovery protocol which has the primary function of discovery services on a local area network (LAN). It uses multicast Domain Name System (DNS) service to locate devices such as computers, printers, and services that those devices offer. The beauty of this is that it allows non-experts to connect to these devices and services in an easy and automatic fashion. No complex DHCP or DNS messiness.


Sun has a similar technology called Jini (which includes its most popular service, JavaSpaces) that is used by companies such as GigaSpaces. Jini/JavaSpaces are extremely powerful technologies; however, they are not as easy to configure or setup as Bonjour.

The install base for Bonjour is the entire Apple Macintosh user-base. Additionally, Windows users that have installed iTunes, have the option to install Bonjour with iTunes to share their media to others on their local network. With this huge install base, how can Apple capitalize on Bonjour?

Bonjour is already used in iTunes and iPhoto to share music and photos on the LAN. Additionally, it used in iChat, Adium, Skype, etc. to find and communicate with other users within the LAN. Apple allows file-sharing thru Bonjour even if you’re not connected to the Internet. This can be thru wires or wireless! In other words, two Macintosh computers can wirelessly transmit information to each other without being connected to a network. It can form an instant network, according to Apple’s own description. This is not just for Macintoshes, but now works with iPhones and iPod touch. I suspect that Apple will use this to instantly network all the Apple devices in the home.

Apple has already begun to harness this for the enterprise, where powerful grids need to be setup by using Bonjour in Xgrid. Making any local computer that has spare cycles part of an instant grid. In large crowds, I can see potential to harness all the mobile devices in the area to act as singular, powerful, Xgrid computer. This might be useful for solving problems that mobile devices are too weak to do on their own. Instant, mobile grid computing.

This is also part of Apple’s secret (or not so secret) weapon for digital convergence in the home. It has been sitting right under our noses; but few realize the amazing technology that Apple uses to make instant networking possible.

4 replies on “Apple Bonjour: Secret Weapon?”

I completely agree that Bonjour is key to many of Apple’s initiatives.

Regarding instantly networking all the Apple devices in the home, see for more details on telltale signs that Apple is also developing a universal remote.

And don’t forget Bonjour’s role in “Starbucks on your iPod”: .

Remember also Bonjour is used for printer discovery and is supported by the big printer companies, most notably HP.

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