I was at CES I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes with Joseph Damato, Director – Consumer Electronics for Delphi. They make hardware for XM and Sirius Satellite Radio. Our conversation was about compatibility and consumer choice. While Joseph did not want me to use a time frame, he did say that the two systems share the same chip set and that they have promised the FCC that one day a single tuner will be able to pick up either one.
Right now, both companies have significantly different approaches to separate you from your entertainment dollars. XM is the slight technology leader and Sirius is the slight content leader (if you don’t count Howard Stern – we’re going to learn a lot about consumerism when his uncensored show hits Sirius Satellite Radio next year). These two companies are in a race for subscribers and Mr. Damato said that they are not likely to work together until they really have to.
This looks like a classic game of prisoner’s dilemma to me. If they don’t cooperate, hardware manufacturers will have to choose which system is the most profitable and best promoted or face overstock and under-performance of the loosing system. However, if they were to cooperate, the manufacturers could make single tuner products that would allow the consumers to choose based upon content and service alone. Humm?
Add video into the mix and you’ve got a real party. Sirius will be bringing an optimized, compressed video signal to your car with short form and kids content ASAP. It won’t take XM long to follow. This is going to be a new kind of TV because it will be made to play on a very small screen and fairly low resolution. In the mean time, XM2Go makes you a walking or riding satellite dish. Will we see a Sirius Personal Satellite device sometime soon? This is going to be interesting indeed. BTW, I setup my XM2Go this evening and, although is has a zillion wires and things to plug in, it is very, very cool!