It took approximately 18 months longer than anticipated to bring satellite radio to the general public. That’s not so bad, actually, considering the complexity of the technology involved. The latest contribution to consumer entertainment has generated significant attention, and as XM and Sirius become more readily available and agreeable to consumers, chances are good they will have a healthy future. So far, XM is leading the charge with more than two million subscribers to Sirius’ roughly half million. Although, unlike the VCR issue, it would appear there won’t be one winner and one loser. Both satellite systems are strong, have incredible programming and talented personnel, on the air and behind the scenes, and possess ambitious and, most importantly, attainable business strategies.
The strength and longevity to each service’s ongoing success are through their multiple automotive alliances. XM is partially owned by General Motors, and its subsidiary, Hughes Electronics. On the other side of the table, Daimler has invested a significant sum of money in Sirius. Both companies count on exclusive partnerships with these OEMs and other retailers to carry their hardware and offer their programming packages to buyers of their partners’/investors’ vehicles. In addition to the Mercedes model and the Chrysler Group lines, Sirius enjoys an exclusive relationship with BMW and MINI and also a strong relationship with the Ford family, including its P A G. Both programmers share Porsche, Nissan and Infiniti and other vehicle models.
For XM, the affiliation with GM is an extremely important one, as the auto manufacturer has pursued an aggressive marketing push to attract customers who will purchase XM-equipped vehicles and ultimately become subscribers. The bottom line is that these impressive content developers are performing what many motorists would consider a community service: providing multiple musical choices and allowing consumers to shut off conventional, mainstream broadcast radio stations filled with mindless commercials, limited play lists and ceaselessly irritating talk shows.
XM offers 68 channels of commercial-free music programming, along with 33 news, sports and talk show stations, plus 21 dedicated traffic and weather channels, and Sirius featuring roughly the same total number of channels, 120, with 65 commercial-free, including constant traffic and weather reports in the top 20 U. S. markets. These leaves a consumer spoilt for choice. Fortunately, both services offer their proprietary hardware through a number of retail chains enabling the user to easily subscribe, in order to receive all the music, talk and sports that basic AM/FM formats can’t.
Sirius’ offers “plug and play” marketing strategy. This allows a consumer to take the portable-styled unit from the car into the home and connect the unit to his or her stereo receiver. XM on it’s side offers a similar strategy, securing many of the leading audio manufacturers to produce XM-ready radios that can replace existing head units in a customer’s vehicle, as well as the Delphi XM Roady, which includes an XM receiver, micro-antenna and cassette adaptor available for the car or truck in one small package.
There are multiple subscription packages available, and consumers can sign-up for the appropriate service through their dealership and even roll the service’s fee into their monthly car payment. Retail chains such as Circuit City and Best Buy also enable consumers to sign up on-site for one or the other service. XM offers its programming package for $9.95 per month, while Sirius is a bit more expensive at $12.95. However, Sirius gets quite creative with a series of payment structures, offering a number of free months based on the length of a customer’s contract. For a fee of $499.00, a consumer can have Sirius for “the lifetime of the product. ” Even Hertz has joined the ranks, offering Sirius in 30,000 rental cars across the country for a nominal daily fee.
Whichever system you prefer, both sound like a good deal. With the depth of material both satellite services present, singing along with Janet Jackson’s, Linking Park or Elton just got pretty easier. But remember that even with the above options present, it won’t eliminate the need for a new auto sound system, though the type of auto sound system may pose some certain requirements.
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