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Sirius and XM join forces: iPod integration made easy?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
Satellite radio powerhouses Sirius and XM said this week they hope to tie the knot and merge into a single mammoth provider, a move which could simplify integration of the radio service in iPods sometime down the line.

Although many had dismissed the possibility of the deal ever taking place due to anti-monopoly laws, the once-bitter enemies agreed Monday to bury the hatchet and join together, forming a single corporation that would effectively go unchallenged in its corner of the radio universe. The rough value of the partnership would amount to some $13 billion.

The pact is a "merger of equals" where neither company intends to erase the other, a spokesperson said. In addition to an equal level of top brass, which sees Sirius Radio's Mel Karmazin take the CEO helm while Gary Parsons of XM assumes the chairman role, both firms expect much (if not all) of their existing content to remain in one piece.

Channel selection should balloon thanks to the merger. Moreover, hardware development should enter the fast lane as satellite receiver makers whittle down the number of separate chipsets they have to make, the firms claimed.

Tellingly, Sirius and XM agreed in the announcement that their primary rivals weren't each other, but instead other formats. The announcement specifically called out the threats from "iPods and mobile phone streaming," reflecting the increased pressure to compete with not just radios, but with the digital music players that replace them.

The news resurrects the possibility of iPod integration with satellite radio, an idea previously killed off by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The Apple frontman shelved the idea after negotiations with Sirius chief Karmazin failed to impress, saying that a lack of interesting content was a key obstacle -- an obstacle now at least partly removed by a near doubling of channels.

Hardware implications could also benefit the iPod maker, allowing it to target more listeners should it ever build in a satellite radio tuner. Apple is certainly no stranger to the concept and was caught trademarking the possibility of satellite music streaming in its enigmatic "Mobile Me" application.

Regardless of Apple's inclinations, the company will have to sit tight before it can act on the new radio alliance: an approval of the Sirius/XM merger by the FCC and shareholders isn't anticipated until the end of 2007.
post #2 of 48
I would love satellite radio on my iPod...as long as it is cheap that is.

Also it's pretty good news Sirius and XM are together now...universal things are always good.
post #3 of 48
If Steve sees Sirius (and presumably XM) individually as having uninteresting content, then they are combined to effectively double the uninteresting content, how does that make it more appealing? If I don't want to watch one hour of Doctor Phil, offering me two hours isn't more enticing.

Of course the other note is that much of Sirius and XM's content is not unique to the iPod; likely a majority of their music programming, leaving niche music and the talk content assuming it isn't also podcast. This overlap means that Sirius/XM produced content is essentially all they have to bring to the table, which is likely what Steve recognizes and is uninterested in.
post #4 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow Slayer 26 View Post

I would love satellite radio on my iPod...as long as it is cheap that is.

Also it's pretty good news Sirius and XM are together now...universal things are always good.

There is a reason they are merging.

Launching satellites is expensive and and they have pretty much reached the crescendo of people who are willing to pay 12.95 per month or $142 per year for subscriptions.

Why would Apple get involved in this market and technology space?
post #5 of 48
Sirius may merge with XM. That's news.

Everything in this story that has anything to do with Apple is the writer's own speculation and commentary.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Porchland View Post

Sirius may merge with XM. That's news.

Everything in this story that has anything to do with Apple is the writer's own speculation and commentary.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Well, the satellite radio companies are going to have to convince American regulators that the merger will not create a monopoly. They are going to drag the iPod into every discussion as "competition" because they will need to show that they still will face serious competition. (sorry about the pun)

I don't really see much overlap, but it is probably going to keep the iPod in the news with satellite radio for a year or two. Somehow, some people are going to see this as evidence that the iPod will soon have satellite radio capabilities. Just you watch...
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post #7 of 48
I'd call it a real stretch of credibility to imagine any benefit between the satellite radio companies and Apple.

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post #8 of 48
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post #9 of 48
Satellite radio on my ipod would be awesome, especially being able to get either company's programing. And this feature would put apple ahead of the pack, the zune lovers would go crazy.
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post #10 of 48
Anyone thinking that Sattelite radio will be INTEGRATED with the iPod is sorely mistaken. At best, a 3rd party will make it an add-on.

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post #11 of 48
Agreed, considering Satellite radio is not really available anywhere except North America.
post #12 of 48
What the (&^%& is that good for???
Who uses that???
What's wrong with FM??
And... if I understand correctly... it's not even free???
I can only laugh at the whole concept....
post #13 of 48
Apple doesn't need any special integration with the iPod - both XM and Sirius can work through a regular web browser, which the iPhone, and soon the iPod, has.
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dutch pear View Post

What the (&^%& is that good for???
Who uses that???
What's wrong with FM??
And... if I understand correctly... it's not even free???
I can only laugh at the whole concept....

Sound quality and variety of programming. And XM and Sirus are commerical free. That is why the charge a monthly subscription. But I'm not willing to pay $12 bucks a month for a radio service.
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuyInFlorida View Post

Sound quality and variety of programming. And XM and Sirus are commerical free. That is why the charge a monthly subscription. But I'm not willing to pay $12 bucks a month for a radio service.

Hmmm, if I want no commercials and sound quality I listen to a CD or iTunes (connected to stereo). I just cannot believe anyone would actually pay for this??
post #16 of 48
This is probably years off at best. A year to approve the merger, and the software, probably hardware too, for Sirius and XM are significantly different from what I can tell. It's not like you're suddenly going to be able to wake up someday soon and receivers from both carriers will be getting the same channels. I'm sure someone who knows the technology could probably decribe it better, but XM seems to have some kind of virtual channel capability so that each type of content gets its own channel or group of channels. So for example if an MLB game is on, you tune to one of the MLB channels, on Sirius you'd be flipping through all the news/talk channels trying to figure out which one is carrying that NBA game you wanted to hear. On Sirius, it's a pain in the rear, you basically have to look up what channel sports are on before you leave home.

Me, I should've dropped Sirius when they wasted all that money to get Howard Stern. The amount of money these companies have both thrown at content I'd never listen to is absurd. Satellite radio is great if you travel much: news, talk, weather, traffic, sports and more without having to search for a new station every 50-100 miles.

Would an iPod with built in satellite radio be appealing? Hmmm ... I don't know. I don't know much about the current portable ones, but I doubt they work well inside without an external antenna. In my experience, the antennas are somewhat omnidirectional, but you still need fairly consistent line of sight with the satellite. I have no idea how well they work to say go running with them, you'd probably have to wear an antenna on the top of your head. If Sirius and XM merge and they get to the point where the hardware is the same, I'd probably just get a car stereo with it built in.
post #17 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Apple doesn't need any special integration with the iPod - both XM and Sirius can work through a regular web browser, which the iPhone, and soon the iPod, has.

I don't know about XM, but at least for Sirius, most of the live (non-music) content is not available over the Internet. Without the live content, it's really pointless to integrate satellite radio and the iPod, IMHO anyhow.
post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Apple doesn't need any special integration with the iPod - both XM and Sirius can work through a regular web browser, which the iPhone, and soon the iPod, has.

I have to say for 2007-2008, this is insane. You're talking about streaming Internet Radio to the iPhone. The amount of data charges you'd have to pay Cingular would be astronomical.
post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dutch pear View Post

What the (&^%& is that good for???
Who uses that???
What's wrong with FM??
And... if I understand correctly... it's not even free???
I can only laugh at the whole concept....

1. FM Radio in Australia and SouthEastAsia, to me, is rubbish, content-wise
2. Bloody ads in FM Radio
3. Reception is ass. This is the main reason Steve Jobs *hates* FM Radio
4. Dumbass competitions and people calling up and all that rubbish
5. Do you know for Foxtel (CableTV) in Australia, what my favourite station was?
Tuning in to their "radio-only" channels for some chatter-free, ad-free stations.
They had a bloody good Lounge Music channel. Just leave it on while chillin or doing some work.
post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

A 3rd party will make it an add-on...

I think that's the go. I have no experience with Satellite Radio, just Satellite and CableTV -- their "radio" channels (streaming music through your Satellite/CableTV connection... through the TV).

I venture that if Sirius and XM content have, on the music side, chatter-free channels that include music flavours such as http://di.fm [be sure to scroll all the way down, it's expanded a lot from just dance music], then I think that would be cool, alongside the "talking" channels that people like.

In which case a 3rd party dongle for Sirius/XM + FM combo thingy would be appealing to a certain group of people. Hey, if it sells more iPods, what the hell, go for it. 8)
post #21 of 48
Satellite radio is a U.S. only feature. Why would Apple spend the time and money developing that for iPod when it would be useless the to the rest of the world? Although, saying that, only U.S. customers can buy videos and movies as of yet...
post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

Anyone thinking that Sattelite radio will be INTEGRATED with the iPod is sorely mistaken. At best, a 3rd party will make it an add-on.

Was there anything to prevent this before? I know that integration into the unit was unrealistic given that the protocol is mostly used in the US and not much elsewhere, if at all. I suppose Apple could popularize the idea if they had the installed base of recievers, but services are probably not economically feasible.

dutch pear, this service is also about live media too, news, sports, talk, and potentially give you access to a much wider range of music than most people can realistically or legally sample otherwise. I'd want to time-shift and they aren't offering very good ways to do that.
post #23 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dutch pear View Post

What the (&^%& is that good for???
Who uses that???
What's wrong with FM??
And... if I understand correctly... it's not even free???
I can only laugh at the whole concept....

Every NFL game, every Major League Baseball game, most college football games, most college basketball games, most music genres, news, talk, Playboy, Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, and so many other things are on satellite radio throughout the Continental USA. I use it. Most GM and Honda cars ship with XM included. Ford and Chrysler ship with Sirius. FM in the US is dying. The vast majority of free radio stations are owned by just three companies. These companies formatted the life out of FM radio. Oddly enough, one of these companies--Clear Channel--is selling-off a large block of its stations. You are correct--satellite radio is not free. However, your subscription includes something like 170 channels.
post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dutch pear View Post

Hmmm, if I want no commercials and sound quality I listen to a CD or iTunes (connected to stereo). I just cannot believe anyone would actually pay for this??

Why don't you do a little research into the product before you spout off?
post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dutch pear View Post

Hmmm, if I want no commercials and sound quality I listen to a CD or iTunes (connected to stereo). I just cannot believe anyone would actually pay for this??

If it wasn't for the fact that there are other things I would rather spend my limited budget on. Maybe when I throw a larger system into one of my cars it will become irresistable.
post #26 of 48
Not going to happen.

Neither the merger or the iPod integration will happen. There isn't a chance in hell that the FCC will let this happen. It's DOA.
post #27 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dutch pear View Post

Hmmm, if I want no commercials and sound quality I listen to a CD or iTunes (connected to stereo). I just cannot believe anyone would actually pay for this??

Well, if you happen to own every CD and song you could possibly ever want to listen to, and you're willing to listen to whatever you happen to have with you at the time (unless all your music fits on your iPod, and you do have that), satellite offers a lot. I have a short commute to/from work which can constitute an entire commercial break on standard crap FM (or constitute an entire rant/rave/laugh-along fest they love to do in the morning drive-time - Man, if only these people were as funny as they think each other are!)

Satellite gives you choices that you just don't have on 'regular' radio. There's stations that cover a spectrum of sound, even within a a genre. Most of the stations offer variety and music you just can't get on FM/AM, and would cost you $$$ to buy on CD (if you could even find it all).

Also, most (but not all) stations are commercial free, most, but not all, don't have banal chatter, and all come in at all times while you travel long distances. No searching for channels, or trying to find an empty one for my iPod/FM transmitter.
post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by initiator View Post

Not going to happen. There isn't a chance in hell that the FCC will let this happen. It's DOA.

I wish you were right, but the FCC hasn't had a very good track record so far.

SBC merges with AT&T
AT&T buys Cingular (back)
Verizon buys MCI
(Someone help me out here I remember there being another big one recently...)

For a while, I thought that the FCC was bought out by Walmart... but I could be mistaken...
post #29 of 48
That's true, but AT&T is not a monopoly post merger. It's different for satellite radio. Instead of 2 players, there will be 1 post merger. That's the definition of a monopoly. Even if there is competition to satellite (terrestrial radio, hd radio, etc.) you can't get past the fact that 1 player in a market = monopoly.

Yeah, I know the FCC sucks big time. But even this adminitration can't get past the monopoly issue. I suppose anything is possible though.
post #30 of 48
if they added integration then i think they would have to allow you to buy songs you hear on satellite radio from the itunes music store instantaneously

kinda of like" damn, that's a good song. i want that" click a few buttons and presto, the song is downloaded effortlessly to your ipod
post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by intlplby View Post

if they added integration then i think they would have to allow you to buy songs you hear on satellite radio from the itunes music store instantaneously

kinda of like" damn, that's a good song. i want that" click a few buttons and presto, the song is downloaded effortlessly to your ipod

That functionality would be cool. Note, however, that by the time this proposed
merger is completed, there may be iPods/iPhones available which can connect
to wireless networks. The iTunes store could stream its own "radio station" to
iPod users. They could have multiple stations covering multiple genres, allowing
people to hear unfamiliar music, some of which they might want to purchase.

The click/buy
functionality would be so much easier to implement if all pieces are within Apple,
and to hell with satellite radio.
post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by initiator View Post

That's true, but AT&T is not a monopoly post merger. It's different for satellite radio. Instead of 2 players, there will be 1 post merger. That's the definition of a monopoly. Even if there is competition to satellite (terrestrial radio, hd radio, etc.) you can't get past the fact that 1 player in a market = monopoly.

Yeah, I know the FCC sucks big time. But even this adminitration can't get past the monopoly issue. I suppose anything is possible though.

Um, if there is competition, how can you then say its monopoly. It all depends on how you define it. For example, some argued MS was a monopoly, but there were lots of other choices out there to use. And when deregulating television services (while regulating content - got to love the FCC!), the argument is that cable has competition from satellite and other services (now FIOS, for example). Ergo, no monopoly and no need for regulation. Hell, when they released regulations from the phone companies for providing DSL, they basically said competition existed from other types of carriers, so there wasn't a need for the phone companies to lease their lines to competitors.

And considering the low amount of actual subscribers on both sides, its hard to call it a monopoly.

But the biggest issue with this being approved is the agreement both companies signed when they got the airwaves and approval from the FCC, which basically said they would not, and could not, merge. But they may have a way out of that (hell, that's what lawyers are paid for). But, you know how the government is, they'd rather watch one fail and end up with a monopoly rather then let investors and subscribers actually not end up on the short-end of a stick.

However, what they should do is both declare bankruptcy, file for liquidation, and then startup a new company that buys all the assets for a song, and then can provide the service without all that overhead of actually paying for the satellites in the first place.
post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

However, what they should do is both declare bankruptcy, file for liquidation, and then startup a new company that buys all the assets for a song, and then can provide the service without all that overhead of actually paying for the satellites in the first place.

If by "they" you mean the managements of XM and Sirius, "they" would be trading
their problems with the FCC for even bigger problems with the SEC. Such a blatant
violation of fiduciary responsibility would likely result in prison time. (if you were
being facetious, please ignore everything i said )
post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

Um, if there is competition, how can you then say its monopoly.

I'm referring strictly to a monopoly in satellite radio. 1 player = monopoly.
post #35 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by initiator View Post

I'm referring strictly to a monopoly in satellite radio. 1 player = monopoly.

Ah, but no one uses that argument anymore (as I defined in my way too long manifesto).
post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

If by "they" you mean the managements of XM and Sirius, "they" would be trading
their problems with the FCC for even bigger problems with the SEC. Such a blatant
violation of fiduciary responsibility would likely result in prison time. (if you were
being facetious, please ignore everything i said )

Nah, its not that hard. I should know, since I once owned stock in a company called Iridium that did satellite phones. They ended up going under due to the huge debt of placing satellites into orbit. Former management at the company finally ended up buying up the assets for a song and restarting the company, sans debt. (Of course, they screwed over the investors as well, but what do you expect). But, if you're too chicken to try that, just going bankrupt Chapter 11 should be good enough to cut a lot of that debt down.
post #37 of 48
While I agree that $13/month can be a lot to pay for satellite radio, there are many distinctive advantages. Mainly, it frees you from Clear Channel near-monopoly of FM radio stations and FCC censorship that destroyed talk radio. If Sirius-XM merger succeeds, I would be more inclined to pay $13/month, but only if there's a way to listen or upload contents to iPod somehow.
post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wally View Post

....
AT&T buys Cingular (back)
...

Please keep your facts straight. The company now known as AT&T was formerly known as SBC. It never owned less than 60% of Cingular. Its partner BellSouth owned the other 40%. With AT&T's purchase of BellSouth, it increased its Cingular ownership from 60% to 100%.
post #39 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

Nah, its not that hard. I should know, since I once owned stock in a company called Iridium that did satellite phones. They ended up going under due to the huge debt of placing satellites into orbit. Former management at the company finally ended up buying up the assets for a song and restarting the company, sans debt. (Of course, they screwed over the investors as well, but what do you expect). But, if you're too chicken to try that, just going bankrupt Chapter 11 should be good enough to cut a lot of that debt down.

Bummer. I take it you dont hold XM or Sirius.
I did a search on Iridium and it appears there are a number of class action suits
against Iridium management, so maybe they are not out of the woods yet. As a
shareholder you might get a check for $4.17 after about 10 years if the suits
succeed.

With regard to what I expect, I guess corporate execs screwing small investors
is what I have come to expect, although every once in awhile you get a Lay,
Skilling, or Kozlowsky.

PS: beware of any company headquartered in Bermuda
post #40 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by intlplby View Post

if they added integration then i think they would have to allow you to buy songs you hear on satellite radio from the itunes music store instantaneously

kinda of like" damn, that's a good song. i want that" click a few buttons and presto, the song is downloaded effortlessly to your ipod

Nice idea. Hopefully in iPhone ??!! (ignoring technical issues for a second)
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