XM Radio Portable Device Seeks to Upset Apple Cart.
XM satellite radio has
MyFi, a completely portable version of the service which, until
now, was marketed for cars and the stay-at-home market in a cariet of formats. [Correction made; thanks to comment.]
MyFi is designed to compete with iPods and other MP3 portables. To cast the battle in larger terms, MyFi competes with
downloading, ripping/burning, local storage of files—the major artifacts of the digital music revolution.
”For people who want to aggressively find, download and own music and spend a lot of time doing that, iPods,
Rios and the others are interesting devices to them,” said XM Chief Executive Hugh Panero.
“Ours is more of a mass-market product for people who want to drink from the fountain of entertainment … rather than
spend all that time searching and downloading,” he said.
The outlook seems dubious, especially considering the economics of adoption. The device costs 350 dollars, then
users must pay 10 dollars a month to subscribe. This, during an era in which:
- Consumers have demonstrated a distinct reluctance to subscribe to music services through their computers, which
don’t require a new cash layout for equipment; and
- Non-interactive music streaming is free over a computer; and
- Traditional broadcast radio is free.
So, XM is guessing consumers will value portability of NON-interactive streams (that is, pushed streams where the
listener has no choice of content), and their wondrously excellent programs, to such a degree that they will dish out
cash for a new device, then go against their instincts by subscribing to souped-up radio. I’m guessing they won’t. At
least, not now. Five years from now, I expect music-by-subscription to be much more accepted than it is now. By then,
all those iTunes Music Store collections will have blown up in users’ faces when they want to migrate to a non-iPod
player, and local storage will have lost its lustre. Of course, by then, perhaps wireless broadband will have
penetrated, and these satellite systems have been choked by ubiquitous, cheap connectivity. Either way, I’m not buying
the XM MyFi proposition.
[The Digital Music Weblog]