XM + iPhone: Another Step Toward Mobile Radio

Sirius XM Radio has announced a new iPhone dock that will allow users to listen to satellite radio in their cars — a feature that isn’t native to the device. The dock plugs in to a car’s cigarette adapter and essentially turns the iPhone into a satellite receiver.

Sirius sees the automobile as a growth area having lost 300,000 after-market subscribers in the second quarter while gaining 120,000 subscribers through car sales. But with auto sales in a slump, the iPhone dock lowers the hardware barrier by piggybacking on an existing (and quickly growing) installed base of iPhone users.

More importantly, this could represent a move towars using mobile devices as outlets for listening to radio. This is a strong push for the broadcast radio industry. The Sirius dock in fact proposes some of the benefits of FM/mobile integration that we’ve examined, such as tagging radio content for transactional models.

From Reuters:

It comes with technology that eases installation by tapping into the car’s radio system. It also allows users to flag songs they hear and buy them via Apple’s iTunes software.

This could end up helping FM/mobile integration by warming up the market and exposing some of these benefits. Kind of ironic if XM ends up assisting terrestrial radio’s efforts in this way.

The dock follows Sirius’ iPhone app, which has been popular but limited in its functionality and range of available content (no NFL, MLB or Howard Stern). The car dock will avert some of these issues and be available in the next few months for $120, while a tabletop version will retail for $150.

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