By Richard Menta 6/30/06
Almost two years ago there were rumors circulating that the next iPod on the horizon might add satellite radio capabilities on-the-go. The rumors, and god knows there are many of them, were sparked by meetings between Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin and Steve Jobs. Apple passed on a iPod Satellite - a device that would have required Sirius to first develop a new chipset much smaller and lighter than what they had existing - but left the door open for later talks.
Eventually, both Sirius and XM produced portable players like the S50 and the Inno, but none of them could capture satellite reception directly. They all had to use a dock to download programming from a stationary receiver and thus were limited only to the channels recorded.
Karmazin flashes DAP Satellite
Now it looks like Sirius is the first to shrink their satellite radio chipset, making it possible to bring its content to DAPs and mobile phones. At the Convergence 2.0 conference held this week at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York, Karmazin flashed what he teasingly described as the first digital audio player with a built-in satellite receiver. Karmazin didn't offer any details on the player, not even a name. All he offered on the device was that it should be available by the end of summer, then tossed it back in his pocket.
So will this re-open talks with Apple? Maybe, though Sirius probably needs the iPod's afterglow more than Apple needs a new killer iPod feature. iPod competitors are another matter. As they struggle to differentiate their products from the iPod and grab even a little market share away from Apple a built-in satellite radio will offer quite a bit of appeal. One detail that bears speculation is if the unit will allow users to record satellite content onto the player? Recently Karmazin was strong-armed by the record industry into paying royalties for his S50 unit (XM chose to fight the matter in court, but Sirius didn't want the legal hassels), royalties the company will avoid if the new DAP appears sans over-the-air record capabilities.
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The 30GB iPod Video is available on Amazon