Congratulations, Sirius and XM! You’re about to get your merger approved! The problem: You’re still screwed.
As the DOJ rehashed in its review Monday, Sirius (SIRI) and XM (XMSR) compete with far more entities than each other, ranging from AM radio to Microsoft Zunes. And even if the FCC doesn’t burden the merger with any restrictions, the competitive landscape is only going to get tougher going. Here’s what the new company is going up against:
Traditional radio. AM and FM aren’t as popular as they used to be, but they’re there — and they’re free.
HD radio. Digital audio, over the air. More choices, better quality.
MP3 players. Ranging from Apple’s (AAPL) iPod to Microsoft’s (MSFT) Zune, they offer more control than satellite radio, fit in your pocket, and hook up to most cars. Apple sold more iPods during the December quarter alone than XM and Sirius have customers. And lots of in-car gadgets like GPS units are shipping with on-board MP3 players, too.
Internet radio. Traditional streams like Live365 and on-demand like CBS’s (CBS) Last.fm, Pandora Radio, etc. This could matter more when stored on a device — like the Slacker Personal Radio does — or when Internet radio services make their way onto mobile devices. Or if in-car Internet browsers can hook up to your stereo.
mobile phones. For now, that means loading music onto your phone from your computer, or — more rare — downloading songs over-the-air. More than half a billion mobile phones capable of playing MP3s off a memory card shipped worldwide last year; that number will almost double by 2011. And as wireless networks get faster, every carrier — and myriad third-party services — will eventually offer on-demand and radio-like mobile music services.
In-home digital music systems, like Escient’s FireBalls, the Sonos digital music system, Apple TV/Airport Express, and advanced video game consoles, which stream music from your family’s PCs — or Internet radio stations — into the living room surround-sound.
In-car digital music systems, like Microsoft’s Sync, pre-installed on some Ford cars, which offers enhanced control over portable media players/mobile phones to drivers.
Anything big or niche we’re missing? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to the list.