Why The iPhone Won't Save Sirius XM

Like many media companies, Sirius XM (SIRI) is hoping Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone can provide a new growth market. That’s why it’s working on an iPhone app, due sometime this spring. But being the umpteenth radio app on the iPhone — with a monthly fee — isn’t going to be the satellite radio company’s saviour .

Why not? The same reasons we listed last summer when word of a Sirius iPhone app first reared its head.

  • The iPhone — and any mobile phone — is hardly an ideal device for listening to the radio in your car, where Sirius shines. After you figure out how to hook it up to your car stereo system, relying on AT&T’s mobile phone network signal to reliably deliver an uninterrupted audio stream could be a losing proposition.
  • Besides Howard Stern, there’s not much unique Sirius content worth paying for to listen to on your iPhone that you can’t get from other radio sources. An 80s station is an 80s station, no matter the source. (Even Sirius XM partner Major League Baseball will be offering its own live radio feeds of games this year via its iPhone app.)
  • There’s plenty of other ways to listen to music on the iPhone that don’t require a subscription fee, including its built-in library (now with over-the-air downloads), and free apps from Pandora, Last.fm, AOL/CBS radio, etc.
  • mobile phone owners have been able to stream satellite radio content for years, and that hasn’t done much for Sirius or its former rival XM.

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