This site is dedicated to new ideas and concepts with regard to Sirius XM Satellite Radio. New technology, marketing ideas, and strategic partnerships are fair game. This site is for brainstorming and I welcome all new ideas.
DISCLOSURE: I own shares of Sirius XM Satellite Radio.


Free Preview Week

Sirius has a great product with exclusive content. If a consumer is not exposed to the content, they generally do not know what they are missing. There are also a large number of former subscribers that let their subscriptions lapse. Similar to cable TV, give them a free-preview week or weekend to see what they are missing.

Former listeners can get a taste of Stern, NFL, NHL, College Football, MLB, NASCAR, Oprah, Eminem, Martha Stewart, or the numerous radio channels. With all of the content, you are bound to get some listeners to come back on board. Offer them a 25% discount to re-sign with the company. It does not cost the company anything more, since the customer already has the radio.

This also gives you the opportunity to promote the Best of Sirius and Best of XM packages. Existing subscribers can give these new channels a test run before subscribing. It helps to promote the new services a bit more than telling people to sign up for them. This is important because many Sirius subscribers have never been XM subscribers and vice verse.

This same approach can also be used for Ala-Carte subscribers. If you allow them to preview the channels that they are not receiving, there is a good chance that they will add a few. They may even add some premium packages. Even if they only add a channel or two, it still adds to the bottom line.

Free previews certainly help the company to promote the product to those that no longer listen and to those that may not have been fully exposed to the complete Sirius XM experience. If you do this 4 times a year, you could add new money to each financial quarter.


Brand Recognition

As the number of manufacturers including Sirius XM in their products increase, Sirius needs a way to let consumers know that their product is involved. Consumers looking for the product will appreciate the ease by which they can quickly identify that Sirius is paired with this device.

Think of this as the "Intel Inside" advertising model. I can look at my laptop and tell that it has an Intel chip and MS Vista. When shopping for it, I didn't have to look too hard to determine which computer I wanted. Sirius can include a logo decal for each device that contains Sirius. When you look at the product, you can determine within seconds that it either does or does not have Sirius.

For larger ticket items, like cars, trucks, or SUVs (I know, but gas prices are coming down), you could put a decal on the window if it is a standard feature. This helps a car buyer identify a feature on the car. Anything that can sell a car is a plus in this tough market. Commercials could show a little icon in the corner.

Product branding is important, especially when other manufacturers are creating their own devices. Anything that helps the consumer buy Sirius can make the sale much easier. You wouldn't want the consumer to get confused and accidentally buy some crappy HD Radio.
Thanks for the idea Frank!!


Sirius University

Searching Google for new stories about Sirius, I came across a story about getting better reception of Sirius in the dorms. It took me back to my college days and the new technologies that we were exposed to. I got to thinking about taking Sirius XM to campus.

Sirius should consider invading major college campuses on a few different levels. Sirius should work out a deal with the university to bring satrad to campus. They could put a repeater at each major university. Kids from all over the country would love being able to hear sports and other programming that may not be present in their local markets. They could listen to the other college football games. They could listen to all forms of music without being tied down to local programming. Sirius could also give local college radio some time on the air on a weekly basis. USC radio one week, PSU the next week, LSU another week......

Once you have an agreement in place with the university, offer college kids programming at a discounted rate through the school. Offer a yearly subscription that is only renewable through the school and possibly included in their tuition. Bring a Sirius tour bus with Howard Stern and O&A to promote the service.

College is a place of higher learning, but often is a new environment which does not offer all the comforts of home. With the number of students attending school at any given time, Sirius could quickly expand its user base and expose itself to the ingenuity that college inspires.


Best Of The Best

Now that Sirius has rolled out the "Best Of Sirius/XM" packages and is on the verge of starting the first ever ala-carte packages, they need to start thinking more about marketing. I know that there is going to be some sort of advertising campaign (I hope!), but how do we get new subscribers and expand their services once they are on board?

The holidays are coming up and people get into that spending mood. That mood may be somewhat tempered with the state of the economy. How do you get people to buy a service? Let's start with a "but one, get one free" radio program for new subscriptions. People love thinking they are getting something for nothing. Give them a radio for free when they purchase a radio and sign up for a 2 year plan. Sirius can them offer a 1 year ala-carte plan for $84 to go on the new radio. This would make a great holiday gift.

How about volume subscriptions? Buy a bundle of say 5 radios with ala-carte subscriptions at a discounted rate. A one-stop shopping experience this year.

Once you get them in the door with a subscription, how do you sell them on more services? How about free preview weekends, similar to what the cable companies do? Offer the Best Of Sirius/XM packages for a free weekend every 6 months. Get consumers checking out the additional offerings. Once they know what they are getting, it becomes easier to sell them on the product.

Customer happiness and retention must be key. Signing up for these services should be very simple. Add the new "Best Of" packages with existing subscriptions to customer's existing bill without any renewals or penalties. If they prepaid, ask them to prepay the $4/month for the remainder of their term up front. If they are monthly, add the $4 charge to their bill and leave it at that. When customers feel that it is too much of a hassle to add the service, they will avoid it.


Techies Rule

Like I said, techies rule the world. So why don't they have their own channel? How about getting a channel like G4 for the guys who like their gadgets? You could use the very same channel as an advertising venue to promote the latest tech toys on the market.

Interviews from some of the leaders in technology and innovators would be cool. Call in talk shows would give the geeks of the world access to some of the brightest minds. Could be a great place for girlfriends and wives to start their Christmas lists for the man in their lives. Talk about the iPhone, Android, mobile browsing, backseat TV, satellite radio, and WI-MAX. Talk about the origins of Microsoft. Talk about Google.

Rather than fight your competition, reach out to their techie base and give them something to nerd-out over. You may even be able to turn Sirius's technical concerns into competitions. It could drastically further Sirius in an open-source world.

Numa Numa? Huh?

Ok. So the Numa Numa guy isn't exactly great entertainment. It does however bring up something that Sirius does not have a lot of: regional or ethnic music.

Sirius doesn't exactly have loads of free space to go down this road yet. Perhaps further advances in data compression will allow the addition of more diverse types of music. I'm thinking Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, and Japanese music. I know we already have a few channels for Korean, Latin, Reggae, French and Canadian music. What if we had 2-3 channels for each?

Delivering that sort of diversity would further enhance the listening experience and bring in pockets of new listeners. These communities exist throughout America and would love to experience their own national content.

I could do without hearing Numa Numa on the radio, but apparently there is at least one guy in America that likes that stuff.


Sirius Rewards

Sirius has a great opportunity to use advertising to help spread its service. But, isn't satellite radio largely commercial free? The internet gives them the capability of delivering location-based, targeted advertising to consumers. Sirius could promote advertisers on the site to subscribers so they can shop at or purchase items from the advertiser and get credit towards their subscription. Let's get into this in a bit more detail.

Advertisers could put offers on the Sirius site in a special area. You could print out coupons from the site that could contribute something towards your subscription and a small discount on their product. If you visit enough of the retailers during the course of the month, you could theoretically earn your subscription.

This allows consumers to get satrad for free, so it eliminates the paid/free argument. It also would cut down on churn because consumers would view it as getting something for free just by buying one product over another: I'll buy Crest this month instead of Colgate. This allows the company to create an online advertising presence and get some of those advertising dollars they have been seeking. One other added bonus is commercial free music remains intact, while increasing advertisers.

Another approach that Sirius can take immediately is to work something out with other rewards programs, such as those offered by Citibank, in order to allow their cardholders to use reward credits in order to purchase Sirius gift cards. These gift cards could be used to purchase equipment or pay for their subscription.

If Sirius can find a simple way to help consumers buy their superior radio content, their subscriber numbers will be even more explosive than at any other point in its past. It will also bring in a windfall of cash at a time that Sirius needs to generate revenue.


Content from Sirius (chapter 1)

Sirius needs to get serious about downloadable content. The radio has the ability to get content. They have some opportunities to sell content online and make some Sirius dough. The first such opportunity is audiobooks.

Audiobooks huh? From Wikipedia (

An audiobook (also referred to as a book on tape) is a recording that is primarily of the spoken word as opposed to music. While it is often based on a recording of commercially available printed material, this is not always the case; nor is this required to fit the definition of an audiobook, which is why "audiobook" is one word rather than two. It was not intended to be descriptive of the word "book" but is rather a recorded spoken program in its own right and not necessarily an audio version of a book.

Spoken audio was originally primarily available in school and public libraries and to a lesser extent in music shops. It was not until the 1980's that there began a concerted effort to attract book retailers. As book publishers entered the field of spoken-word publishing, the transition to book retailers carrying audiobooks became commonplace on bookshelves rather than in separate displays. To put it simply, it is the context of a regular book read and recorded onto a means of media such as CD Roms or Cassettes, which can be an advantage to the blind or illiterate.

You could provide a number of audiobooks which could be purchased online and either downloaded or pushed to the satellite radio device. It adds another dimension to the radio. Even better, Sirius XM have Oprah working for them. Oprah has a Book Of The Month. Oprah has a large following and could even help pick a line of audiobooks every month, possibly coinciding with the books she promotes on-air.

Providing audiobooks for or partnering up with an audiobook provider can be another revenue stream for a company that is redefining radio.


Sirius Numbers

As an investor in Sirius, I took it on the chin the last day or two like many others. I'm still standing, though a bit beaten up. The main reasons for the beat down: lowered guidance for next year and debt coming due in 2009.

Let me just get it out of the way. I do not believe for a second that Sirius will only add 2M subscribers all next year. I think this number is far too conservative. I understand the OEM market isn't what it has been, but with higher penetration rates Sirius should be adding more subscribers. Not less. In my opinion, this number is conservative because it does not take into account Ala Carte subscribers. If Ala Carte subscribers count in an equal way towards our subscriber numbers, then 2M is far too low an estimate. If the 2M subscribers refers to full subscriptions only, there may be something to the number. I certainly do not think this number represents what is being portrayed in the media.

The main issue that shareholders have hanging over their heads is the debt situation. Somewhere in the range of $1B comes due in 2009 (Feb/May/Dec). While Sirius is considering refinancing the debt, I have another idea. Scrap some of the refinancing altogether and offer lifetime subscriptions.

Lifetime? But then we are losing money right? Yes and no. If you offer a limited amount of lifetime subscriptions(say 2M = 10% of current subscribers) on a first come basis, you have another avenue of raising cash to pay down bonds. Long term you would lose some money. However, you are getting money for about 5 years worth of content up front. If you managed to sell 2M lifetime subscriptions at $500 apiece, you have $1B cash on hand to pay off debt. This would improve liquidity and allow the stock price to rise again. This puts the company in a stronger position going forward. Considering that in that same 5 years you will have another 10M to 15M customers, 2M customers for financial stability isn't such a hard decision. You could even reward shareholders by offering the deal to them first.

Maybe this is not an avenue that Sirius is considering, but it is certainly a possibility to get cash quickly to pay off debt and return something to the shareholders.


Are you ready for some football?

Today, I was listening to my radio while driving and the thought of the NFL linking to Sirius crossed my mind. I think it is great that they are helping to promote Sirius subscriptions by pushing customers towards the page, but is there something more that could be done? I think the answer is yes.

What if a customer doesn't want a subscription to satrad? I know it doesn't make sense to me either. But, what if. I am sure there are those people out there that simply do not want the service. What if we sell them on listening based on the program. What I mean by this is to sell them on a football game, a concert, or even a MMA event. There are many out-of-market games that sports fans are missing out on.

This model would work best over the internet. You could sell a customer a virtual ticket to the game or event for $1 - $2 and maybe a package deal (6 events for $5). By using the ticket, the customer gains access to listen for the duration of the event.

This allows customers to get want they want for a cheap fee. It also allows them to check out the other programming options while they are listening to Sirius. It gives them a chance to check out some music during halftime. If they like what they hear, they can get the trial version or eventually sign up for a subscription. By doing this, you can promote the company's services in a different way and make some extra cash in the process.


Sirius Satcasting

With all the talk of Apple getting involved with Sirius XM in some capacity, whether it is a new device or the uSirius application for the iPhone, I got to thinking about one thing Apple has that Sirius does not: The Podcast.

All things being equal, Sirius XM has exceptional content. Sometimes you miss a program that you were looking to hear. Maybe you forgot to record it. You missed that concert or game. You were listening to Howard 100 and missed Oprah. You missed a few Mad Money episodes in your archive for when you need a good laugh. You came in late and don't want to miss anything. What do you do?

Sirius should consider the Sirius XM podcast (aka. the Satcast). Downloadable subscriber-only sports, concerts, and special programming that has occurred. This is particularly valuable with respect to sports programs. A user simply cannot record and listen to all of college football on any given Saturday.


Sirius Apple Device

The message boards and stock speculators are abuzz with the news that Sirius and Apple will each be speaking separately on the same day (9/9/08) in California. While some of the talk may be "pie in the sky", there are some good points being made about a potential partnership.

Apple and Sirius may officially announce a new application to run on the iPhone. This application is a confirmed fact as far as I have seen, but it is unknown if the application is completed or not. This would give Sirius XM a new platform to grow into. Regardless of what some may say, Sirius has the content that people want. Another source for subscribers is more than welcome.

Apple is also supposed to announce a new product of some sort. It is suspected to be a revamped iPod nano or possibly a new iTouch. With the recent talk of stale playlists and declining podcast acceptance, there seems to be another buzz: A Sirius and Apple partnership for a new portable device.

I cannot think of a better fit for each company's technologies. Sirius is moving away from designing their own radios. Apple designs devices. Sirius has fresh and exclusive content. Apple (as I mentioned before) is looking for fresh content. Sirius plays various genres and helps promote new music. Apple has new music for sale, but doesn't have the method to distribute without the user actually looking for the music.

If Apple were to take an iTouch-like device and add satrad capabilities, it would provide Sirius with a new platform to bring in new subscribers. It would allow Apple to sell new devices and further their reach into digital music distribution. Make it a device that can easily transfer to the car and it could allow Apple to beat Microsoft to the punch in automotive music sales. Sirius gets a slice of each music sale and in return facilitates the download of digital music directly into your vehicle. All you have to do is hit the "buy" button and it is yours forever. The strong content on Sirius will advertise and sell users on the music Apple is selling. And imagine what this device becomes if you also pair it up with Sirius navigation and weather services.

I know I am living in the clouds on this one, but if Apple and Sirius get together on this one, it could be mutually beneficial. It would be the "killer app" that everyone is looking for with the branding behind it to gain massive acceptance.


Gimme a heads up

I must admit that I still sometimes channel surf. I don't have to haggle with commercials, but I tend to be indecisive with my listening. If I don't feel like listening to a song, I move on to the next favorite channel. Is there a way to get me to settle down and prevent all the channel flipping?

How about a preview pane? It could give you a heads up on what song or songs are coming up next. This enhancement could help users see what they would be missing if they decided to change the channel. I would make this an option that could be disabled via the settings menu.

How about allowing a user to set up a recording wish list? What about an alert if a favorite artist is in a channel's "coming up" list? Lists could be set up by song title, artist or event type. This makes it easier for the user to record what they want without hovering over the "Love" button. This could be added to Sirius Studio.

With a few minor enhancements, satellite radio could further distinguish itself from terrestrial radio services.

Ad-supported subscriptions

It has been discussed in the past that Sirius currently has a patent for distributing advertising interlaced with live content. Commercials? But, isn't satellite radio commercial free? The answer may soon be yes and no. There are some obstacles to ad-supported radio at this time: technology and regulation.

The idea here is that existing paying subscribers will continue with service as it exists today: commercial-free. Non-paying subscribers would be subsidized with commercials. If non-paying subscribers would like to get rid of the commercials, they pay a subscription fee. Some of the content could be limited to paying subscribers only in order to give incentive to consumers becoming paid customers.

Regulation could be the tough spot in all of this. Sirius XM agreed not to use local repeaters for the transmission of advertisements, if I understand the agreement correctly. This, however, does not preclude the use of a another company for transmitting commercial content or direct satellite transmission without retransmission.

Technology would need to be developed for the radio to receive commercial content which is relevant to the current listening area. The following are a few items that need to be addressed:

  1. Each radio would to know where it is. This could be done via a GPS locator. This could tell the device what radio market the user is in and determine which commercial content to store.

  2. The radio needs to store commercial content. The radio could buffer up content from a secondary channel. This content can be stored inside the radio and queued to play at regular intervals.

  3. Filler commercials could be added along paid commercials to advertise Sirius XM services and paid radio. "Ditch the commercials, sign up for Sirius XM radio". "Sirius XM, the future of radio". This allows the user to come back from commercials back to live content (after missing a commercial or two).

  4. Commercial feature should be allowed to be disabled or periodically started on radios. This is so the feature is available on various radio stations, but Sirius XM has the ability to disable this feature on a specific channel during special events. This could be done using flags inside of an encrypted key (as discussed here).

  5. Internet based services could work in a similar fashion with the radio. This will help it explode onto the cellular phone market.

This technology, in my opinion, is going to be a major driving force in satellite radio content for years to come. It also opens a major secondary revenue stream. If some consumers are not willing to adopt satellite radio because it is not free, give them a way to get most of the content for free. That's innovation!


Sirius Emergencies

Disaster strikes when you least expect it. Sirius and XM have committed to providing up-to-date information hen an emergency presents itself anywhere in the country.

Sirius and XM have given the Red Cross a number of receivers for emergency purposes. As satrad becomes more widespread throughout the country, Sirius XM has the opportunity to aid greatly in coverage of these events for those affected by it. They also provide safety and evacuation information. Sirius XM should consider activating in the region. Work with terrestrial services in the area to notify anyone in the region about the service.

From a business perspective, it shows consumers the value in satrad. From a cummunity erspective, it saves lives.

Hurricane Gustav Emergency Services

SIRIUS Weather and Emergency channel 184
XM Emergency Alert channel 247
SIRIUS’ and XM’s news and weather channels deliver the latest breaking national news on the storm, its path and how it affects the county.

– CNN, SIRIUS channel 132 and XM channel 122
– CNN Headline News, SIRIUS channel 133 and XM channel 123
– CNN en Espanol, SIRIUS channel 92 and XM channel 126
– Fox News, SIRIUS channel 131 and XM channel 121
– The Weather Channel XM channel 125

Information provided by
Further information for evacuation routes available here
Another resource with projected storm paths located here - Thanks Don!

UPDATE: I am happy to say that Sirius is already doing this and radios in the affected region should have emergency information.


Multizone listening

My wife's a little bit of country. I'm a little bit of rock-n-roll. We are sometimes at odds over what to listen to. It is my car, so I win most of the time. How do you make all passengers in the car happy? You probably guessed that the answer could be multizone listening.

Imagine this: One receiver gets the satellite radio signal into the car and then redistributes the signal via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or hard-wired to all receivers in the car. This could allow for multiple receivers to piggyback on the car's signal so each user can have their own listening experience. This could be via another head unit in the back seat or portable devices. Toss in a wireless headset and everyone is happy.

This same idea could be adapted to restaurants or other public locations. How about satrad hotspots with free listening at McDonalds? All of this free listening could be subsidized with commercials. How about business subs with satrad jukeboxes?

I guess my point here is that with multizone listening, my wife gets to listen to whatever she likes without affecting my listening experience. It allows the kids to listen to all the Disney Radio they like while I listen to Linkin Park.

Conceptually, it would be something like this, but adapted to use in the car. The price could use some work too.


Rock On Dudes!!

One of the strengths of satellite radio is the ability to broadcast music from one location to a nationwide audience. If Sirius XM had a few scattered locations throughout the country that could provide a platform for live performances, they could help promote local talent.

Live recordings or concerts of top (possibly unsigned) talent could help further localize and diversify the current content on satrad. Friends, family, and fans of local bands would flock to satrad to listen to and support these same bands. This is content that you don't get until a band has "made it". Think of it as an "American Idol" competition on radio.

One of these locations is XM's new building in Nashville, which sports an area for performances. This is the perfect location for country talent. How about locations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Seattle or Los Angeles?

Throw performance studios into the hotbeds of music talent and let them do the rest. It would create such a buzz about Sirius XM on the music scene that the publicity alone would make it a worthwhile investment by the company.


What's going on?

I am always listening to my radio in what I feel is a limited fashion. What I mean by this is that I listen to the channels I listen to, but never know what is on elsewhere. Unless I am looking for something specific, I don't know what I am missing. This is why I believe Sirius XM needs an on-screen guide.

Something like this should not be difficult to implement and would greatly improve program visibility. It would nicely integrate into the recording device and enhance the listening experience. It could be very similar to the DVR service that many people enjoy for TV viewing.

I see a guide that can be viewed as a hour-by-hour page with each channel defined. I can also see a selected channel being broken down based on programming if you already know what channel you want.

I think something like this would help me find what I want without constantly checking out the website. I think it would supplement the navigation system and further enhance the satrad experience. C'mon Sirius!! Gimme my guide!

Another Google in the making?

It cannot be disputed that Google is the king of advertising. Their model has overtaken the internet and has started eating into traditional advertising models. You can advertise with them everywhere on the web, including on this site. They are also making a push into mobile advertising, but it is limited to the cellular market at this time.

Sirius is the king of satellite radio. Users are very loyal. I became a subscriber 3 months ago after baulking for years that I wasn't going to pay for something I could get for free. A few things changed my mind somewhere along the way. I had a loaner car a number of times over the past few years and it usually had XM installed. I always enjoyed the selections of channels and the lack of commercials. I really liked the lack of commercials. After a number of years watching this stock, I decided to purchase a stake in it at the beginning of this year. It was time to go get a radio and take the plunge!

How does Sirius XM advertise when their model depends on a lack of advertising? I can see them exploiting the ad space market similar to Google via three main mechanisms (some of which exist today): advertising during talk and sports programming, targeted ads using the mobile market, and targeted ads using Sirius Traffic.

Advertising during sports and talk programming is nothing new to Sirius XM. However, there is one big difference from the past: Sirius XM has all sports programming one one radio. Advertisers have to take satrad as a serious platform now that there are 18M+ users. You will be able to get every MLB/NFL/NHL/NASCAR event. This is the dream of all sports fans. You will be able to hear Oprah/Howard/O&A/Emeril/Martha on one radio.

I think that the mobile market has a huge amount of potential.. Not only does it allow you to cheaply reach a multitude of users for little to no extra expense, but it gives you a location-based advertising platform. Many cell phones have GPS or triangulated position services nowadays. Knowing where a user is located gives Sirius XM the opportunity to show targeted ads on the display with their radio service. Since you cannot hear it, it does not take away from the listening experience. It also gives them the opportunity to offer free internet radio service if the user is willing to hear commercials.

Another advertising model which has been discussed briefly would be via Sirius Traffic. Since the service knows where the car is, they can easily suggest preferred gas stations, restaurants, entertainment, and shopping locations. They could easily provide the location, its distance, a brief description, and possibly even specials/coupons. This is where I think we have our greatest potential to become Google-like.


Pandora's Broken Box

A lot of talk has surrounded Pandora and other online services which allow users to design their own channels. I am a strong believer that this business model is a broken one. Let me explain why.

Satellite radio sends out one signal for a channel and each user receives that signal. Each time a song plays on that channel, a royalty fee is paid. If we assume this channel plays 3 minute songs for 24 hours a day, we would have 480 songs played during the course of the day. Royalties paid for one channel would equal 480 songs regardless of the number of users.

Pandora allows users to configure a channel to play the songs that they want. This means that the same figure above for satellite radio (480 songs/day) applies to each Pandora user. That's right! It is sort of like quicksand. The more users they have, the more expensive it is for them to stay in business.

So what does this all have to do with Sirius XM? I suggested to Sirius XM management that they should allow development of online channels by broadcasters/users. For a higher fee ($300-$500/month), each broadcaster could develop content and broadcast it online to any Sirius XM user. Since this is content on one channel, you are talking about limited royalty fees. The charge should cover all royalty expenses and put a little something into Sirius XM's pocket. Ad content could be provided by the programmer or coordinated with Sirius XM in order to defer the cost of programming.

Sirius could help to promote these very same channels by allowing some of these channels actual satellite broadcast time on special channels from time to time. It helps to legally spread online music service into mainstream use. These channels could be a great promotional tool for the recording industry. Broadcast concerts for local bands to promote themselves. Possibilities are endless.


As many are already aware, a program is in development for accessing Sirius XM content on the iPhone. Though I am sure they had this project in the works before I sent it on to Sirius XM management, it is nice to see that they are thinking about other revenue streams besides auto installations. Since some of my suggestions have not yet come to light, I will go into each one and explain why it is a serious opportunity for the company.

My suggestions to Sirius XM:
  1. Open Sirius and XM API to third party developers - This allows company to tap cell phone market via wireless internet. Applications could be developed for Palm, iPhone, and other 3G/4G devices to sign into existing Sirius/XM accounts. If Apple and Sirius XM worked together on this, they could potentially turn an iPhone into a virtual Stiletto! It could become a selling point for both the iPhone and Sirius.
  2. Internet-only subscription - Without a satellite radio, there is no need for a full-blown subscription. A cheaper fee ($5) could be charged for internet radio to help push its adoption. Of course, this requires some constraints on the user account accessing the service. Each login would have to be limited to one user at a time to prevent misuse.
  3. User logins - All users must be required to login to listen to radio service. Each phone could save off the password for ease-of-use. Login must be required in order to take owness for protection of Sirius XM content out of the hands of cell phone providers.
  4. Free trial subscriptions - From time to time Sirius and Apple could offer promotions where 1-3 months of Sirius XM internet radio is available for free. I am of the impression that once people start listening to superior content, they will not go back to terrestrial radio or stale playlists.
  5. Free Ad-based subscriptions - Sirius and XM could sell targetted, location-based ads which would be displayed to the consumer while they listen to their Sirius XM programming. These ads could also be audible in place of content while the user listens. The user could elect to receive this type of service instead of paying for the service.

With everything in place, I feel that this opens the door to another major dual revenue stream that has thus-far eluded satrad.

Ala Carte done easy

Ala carte for satellite radio is the ability for a user to define their programming, rather than receive and pay for everything. Satrad is the first of its kind to offer this type of service. I don't see this being very hard to set up.

They already have the capability to hide/block/remove channels from the programming received by customers. They have also marketed this capability in a "family friendly" package. This package removes "questionable" adult content channels, such as Howard Stern, Maxim Radio, and The Playboy Channel. I am sure this option saves parents a lot of grief answering questions about the birds and bees.

The most difficult piece of the equation is allowing all users the ability to chose individual channels from within their online account. Each programming choice would be saved off so that when a user turned on their radio, their programming choices would be pushed to the radio via an encrypted key. The encrypted key would contain the radio ID and 2 bits per channel in order to define on/off/advertising/non-advertised. Of course, any additional information could reside in this key.

A firmware update would be used to configure the radio to initialize itself based on this encrypted key. This key would tell each channel how to behave. This allows Sirius to offer any combination of channels and also allows them to offer free ad-supported content on a selected basis.

I am not sure I see a need for a new radio in order to do this. Of course, I am not privy to all the technicals of existing radios. It should be coming soon to a radio near you.

Interoperability near term

SDARS spectrum (2320MHz - 2345MHz) is striving to be more efficient in its usage. Since Sirius (2320MHz - 2332.5MHz) and XM (2332.5MHz - 2345MHz) never received each other's signals and only worked on prototypes to do so, there are many legacy receivers on the market which will only receive half of the SDARS spectrum. In order to use their resources more efficiently, there are only a few options which may or may not be feasible:

  1. Minimize redundant programming - Eliminate duplicate channels offered on both services by retransmitting the combined channel on both services. This is the approach that is being taken with Mad Dog radio. This reduces operating costs by only producing one set of programming, but uses an equal amount of spectrum.
  2. Compression technologies - If newer compression technologies allow the company to further reduce the spectrum needed to broadcast radio, the same channels could be broadcast on both frequency ranges. This would still not be as efficient, but would allow a wider range of programming for customers and all legacy radios would be able to work in the same manner.
  3. Firmware upgrades - Some have theorized that by using firmware upgrades, you could potentially expand the range of spectrum that a radio could receive. If this is feasible, it would most likely affect receivers designed after an interoperable prototype was developed by a joint venture between the two companies. In designing software, it always best to allow configuration of your product using the easiest possible means. This would be done using a variable which defines the lower range and another to define the upper range. Whether this is modifiable via firmware has yet to be seen.

Any combination of the above would allow interoperability to begin to occur. The ideal scenario would be to have a firmware upgrade which expands the current frequency range. The companies would then gradually eliminate excessive duplicate programming. Further compression of the signal or compacting of the radio channels post-cleanup would be icing on the cake.

Welcome to the site

Welcome to my first blog. This site is intended for the sake of collaborating ideas and new concepts. I strongly believe that Sirius XM has a lot of unrealized potential. There are many directions which can be taken to further the footprint of satellite radio (satrad) into the U.S. and beyond.

Companies often narrowly define their product based on what the company feels that the end user would like the most. Sometimes they are right on the mark, sometimes they miss completely. I hope to foster the positives in this emerging technology and develop ideas to move it forward and adapt to the ever changing environment.

Enjoy the site.