The Howard Stern-free Sirius XM (SIRI) iPhone app is still the no. 2 most-popular in Apple’s (AAPL) App Store, and it’s racked up more than 500,000 downloads, according to a leaked employee memo from a Sirius.
Some of those downloads were for the express purpose of giving angry Stern fans access to review the app — and to blast Sirius for releasing an app without Howard’s channels. (Stern says the missing channels are “a rights thing,” and that maybe one day he will be on the app.)
But the hope is that many of the downloads will convince people to try free, 7-day subscriptions to Sirius XM’s streaming radio service — and after that, become paying subscribers. Sirius offers a $13/month streaming-only service, or a $3/month streaming add-on for satellite radio subscribers. One of those packages is required to use the iPhone app.
The opportunity for Sirius is to boost subscribership during a bad time for the U.S. auto industry, which had been providing the company with most of its growth. The challenge is that the iPhone market is already flooded with music apps, including free streaming from apps like Pandora. (And, of course, the music that’s already on your iPhone or iPod.)
Here’s the leaked Sirius note:
From: Employee Bulletin
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 1:03 PM
To: Sirius Consultants; Sirius Employees; Sirius On-Air Talent; XM Radio Global
Subject: Message from Scott Greenstein / SIRIUS XM App
To All Employees:
I would like to share with you the tremendous response to the launch of our SIRIUS XM App for iPhone and iPod touch. Only four days (96 hours) after going live, our App rocketed to become the No. 1 Top Free Music App downloaded from the iTunes’ App Store. It is also the No. 2 Top Free App download. The actual number of downloads of our App had reached 513,319 as of late Sunday. That is one of the fastest download rates by any App.
As our App took the top spot on the Music App rankings last week, the music icon button flipped over to SIRIUS XM from Pandora Radio. The press has taken notice. As CNBC reported Friday night, when its Silicon Valley reporter broke into a segment to report that our new App was climbing the App Store rankings, “the reason this (App) is significant is it opens up SIRIUS XM to a huge potential market.”
The speed and height that our App is reaching demonstrates just how highly attractive and valued our exclusive programming may be to millions of iPhone and iPod touch users. New subscribers are getting their first chance to hear the superior programming of SIRIUS XM, and existing subscribers have access to us almost anywhere they go. The response to the App from this new large audience reinforces our belief that everything worth listening to is now on SIRIUS XM.
Finally, the launch of the App required cooperation across many departments at SIRIUS XM and I want to thank everyone involved for their dedication to the project and to the varied talents they brought to making it a successful launch.
President and Chief Content Officer
SIRIUS XM Radio