XM Revives iPod Satellite Hopes

By Richard Menta 4/1/05

At the end of last year the Net was abuzz with the latest Apple iPod rumors, among them that Apple was working with one of the satellite radio companies to release an iPod Satellite.

It turns out that Apple and Sirius did discuss the opportunity, but in the end the iPod Satellite was rejected by Apple. The details were announced by Sirius Satellite Radio head Mel Karmazin last February.

The idea is still a good one and recent news shows it is in the stars for Sirius competitor XM.


Richard Menta

XM Satellite Radio Chairman Gary Parsons announced at the Banc of America Securities investor's conference that the company plans to integrate satellite radio to more products. "We would see the ability for consumer electronics manufacturers to perpetuate the availability of XM's service down to clock radios and DVD players," Parsons told the audience.

Does this also include a satellite portable with MP3 capabilities? Parsons did not mention such a unit specifically, but with the iPod being the hottest selling digital device ever the inclusion of MP3 players is inferred.

XM is already closer than Sirius to developing an MP3/Satellite radio simply because they already have a portable product out there, the MyFi. The MyFi is satellite radio only, but adding MP3 capabilities to that unit should not take any significant effort. The only thing that might hold it back is the fact that the MyFi is a pretty big unit. Adding the capability to play MP3 would not add much to the size and weight to the MyFi, but the company may look to shrink the overall size of the MyFi first. That means waiting for the delivery of a smaller chipset, whenever that may happen.

Indeed size may have been a major factor with regards to Apple's rejection of Sirius, but just because Apple decided to pass (for now) on such an endeavor it does not mean other electronic makes have not expressed interest to add satellite radio to their MP3 players.

Companies like Creative Technologies and Sony are looking for ways to take market share from the iPod, mostly by offering features unavailable through Apple. Still, both size and added cost should give MP3 manufacturers pause. Creative spokesman Phil O'Shaughnessy has already dismissed the idea of satellite radio for his company saying it was not an area of focus for them.

If such a unit should appear, it will be most likely be on the MyFi first. XM can do it today, but most likely they will wait to smooth out a couple of the technological bumps before that happens. I will say this, both Sirius and XM have shown significant interest in developing such a player so it may not be all that long before you see one.

 


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