There has been a battle brewing for years now. Skirmishes have been being fought off and on, but now both sides are consolidating for a full out war. The battle is for the ears and minds of listeners and the fight is between traditional radio and satellite radio. XM and Sirius are preparing to take on many of the radio stations on earth as these traditional radio stations begin to stream more and more music online.
Traditional radio stations streaming content online is nothing new; it’s been happening for some years now. The new thing is the fact that these radio stations are stepping up their efforts; and listeners seem to be, well, listening.
Let’s take Microsoft’s Media Player for example. In addition to ripping, burning and compiling, you can listen to Internet radio through it. You can find any sort of station that you want, from raging heavy metal to smooth jazz and even old country tunes. These are right on your computer and all you have to do to find another station is click your mouse. The downside to this, though, is the fact that these stations all carry commercials on them.
XM and Sirius radio offer very little in the way of Web based music, concentrating instead on their bread and butter industry, automotive applications. Contracts with auto makers have led to built in Sirius and XM in many OEM stereos (Honda offers XM, for instance) and this continues to be the major factor influencing the satellite radio companies’ moves.
Is this a wise decision, though? With the growing trend for all things going Internet, do satellite radio providers stand to be left out in the cold while consumers move to online radio stations that can be played through web enabled cell phones for free? (Minus the service plan, of course) Possibly only time will tell. XM has at least teamed up with Palm to produce the world’s first XM capable smart phone in the Palm Centro, but is that enough to help the satellite radio giant remain competitive?
Ultimately, the performance and popularity of Sirius and XM will hinge on their deals with automakers, obviously. With sales slowing and production of new cars and trucks dwindling a little at a time, there is always the risk that the market will erode beneath their feet (so to speak).
Consumers enjoy Sirius and XM, as evidenced by the popularity of portable audio units offered by both companies. However, consumer loyalty is a fickle thing and once Internet radio gets to the point that it is more widely available though portable devices (maybe even transmitted to the car’s radio ala iPod?) how loyal will those consumers remain to the satellite radio companies?
Both Sirius and XM are responding to emerging consumer trends. New portable devices such as the Stiletto 2 offer web based Sirius radio, the ability to transfer your own mp3’s to the device and much more. This promises to be a new trend for the satellite radio company and consumers are definitely in favor of it.