iPod Satellite: Jobs Tells Sirius CEO No

By Richard Menta 2/10/05

It looks like there was some validity to the rumor about an iPod Satellite back in December. Not that there is going to be one, just that the two heads of the companies mentioned, Apple and Sirius, had a dialogue about it.

Speaking at the McGraw-Hill Companies' 2005 Media Summit, Sirius Satellite Radio head Mel Karmazin revealed that he approached Steve Jobs about a partnership between the two companies to add satellite radio capabilities to future iPods.

Richard Menta

It turns out the Steve was not interested, at least at this time.

According to the Financial Times "Mr Karmazin told a conference in New York that Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computer, currently did not believe iPod users needed anything other than the ability to download thousands of songs. However, he said this might change in the future, especially if satellite radio provided more interesting content".

I must say I was a little surprised at Jobs' seemingly quick dismissal and not just because I think an iPod Satellite is a great idea (despite my significant doubts about the original rumor it offered a great market differentiator for both companies against their competitors).

I say it because of another market where Apple is just starting to penetrate, the automobile market.

Apple has already made a deal with companies like BMW to bring the iPod to their cars. An iPod in-dash unit makes reasonable sense to appear at some point, which is why such a unit topped my 2005 wish list. The auto market is wide open for someone to come along with a built-in digital music system.

But there is only so much real estate on the dashboard of an automobile and both of the satellite radio manufacturers have already staked quite a bit of it for themselves. With many cars already possessing both standard and satellite radios, GPS', CD players, amplifiers and other ephemera there is not much space left to cram an iPod Car in there.

Apple will probably need to work some deals to converge their technology with those of other auto electronic suppliers. That or start developing complete audio stereo systems, something that seems to be beyond Apple's scope.

Apple doesn't have to converge with the satellite radio folk, of course, the company can make a deal with standard auto stereo manufacturers instead. But then Steve Jobs did say that he might change his mind about satellite radio in the future. If it proves to be a compelling partner to put him into cars he should and will consider it. Maybe Jobs is looking for just that, more compelling reasons beyond being cool and different. These reasons include business ones, like the stability of the satellite radio industry. That is a notion some pundits have started to question.


The iPod Shuffle is available on Amazon

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