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Sirius in Negotiations With Apple 388

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the howard-stern's-new-haunt dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sirius Satellite Radio Chief Executive Mel Karmazin announced that his company is in talks with Apple about bringing satellite radio to the iPod. Karmazin met with Steve Jobs Monday and he says the technology is the easy part. The hard part is negotiating just how they will split the profit from equipment and monthly subscriptions." We've covered this before, but now it seems they are getting "more Sirius," or something.
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Sirius in Negotiations With Apple

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  • by cowscows (103644) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @06:54PM (#12649787) Journal
    I know he's just trying to make sirius look more viable since they seem to be losing out to XM, but shouldn't he consider Apple's general attitude towards not announcing stuff ahead of time and keep his mouth shut.
    • Sirius isn't "losing" anything.

      Both companies are seeing their subscription numbers soar. XM's lead seems to have little more to do with anything except a head start. Both are seeing growth at similar rapid paces.

    • I doubt Sirius is going to be losing out to XM after Stern starts broadcasting there.

      ~S
    • by BitterAndDrunk (799378) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @07:08PM (#12649916) Homepage Journal
      Sirius signed a contract with Stern, who will be producing quite a few shows. The big question is will his listenership follow? If a large enough percentage of them do, Sirius stands poised to take the lead in the satellite market share race. Maybe a monster one.
      Hooking up iPods with Sirius would be quite interesting . . . maybe an XM killer.
  • Battery Usage? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder if this would suck up more battery... That seems to be one of the factors many people look at when buying these mp3 players.
    • Well, yeah, Apple products have so much good history with batteries and all.
      • No, they haven't. But for what it's worth, the grandparent is correct in saying it's a factor when buying an MP3 player, and when I bought my iPod mini a few months back, it was the decisive one: the iPod mini had close to twice the battery life of the competing products.
  • by raydobbs (99133) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @06:56PM (#12649801) Homepage Journal
    As a subscriber to Sirius sat. radio AND an owner of Apple machines, I like the idea of being able to hear my favorite sat. radio stations on my iPod. Hopefully, the route they take will finally make that an affordable reality.
  • by MisterLawyer (770687) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {reywalekim}> on Thursday May 26, 2005 @06:56PM (#12649802)
    Gee, I don't think I've ever seen that incredibly hilarious pun anywhere [elvisnews.com] else... [autoblog.com]
  • iPod format (Score:3, Interesting)

    by adamplas (808919) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @06:57PM (#12649805)
    How much would this change the format of the iPod? As far as I remember (which isn't much I must admit) satellite radios must require some sort of antenna to pick up the signal. Would a relatively bulky add-in be required to pick up the signal?
    • What form do satellite radio antennae take? If it fits into a wire like an FM antenna, could it be wired into the headphones?
      • What form do satellite radio antennae take? If it fits into a wire like an FM antenna, could it be wired into the headphones?

        The nondirectional Sirius antenna in my car is a small box about 2" square that mounts on the roof. My directional home antenna is a slightly bigger box that mounts on a window sill and tilts up to face the satellite.

        I don't think a satellite radio antenna could be wired into headphones (without making them too bulky to wear). The portable satellite radio receivers I've seen don't
      • Look at the myfi http://www.xmradio.com/myfi/index.jsp [xmradio.com] for an example of what a portable satellite radio is like.

        And yes the antennae can be part of the headphones.
    • Re:iPod format (Score:3, Informative)

      by BladeRider (24966)
      The xm radio MyFi/XM2Go portable sat system has a small antenna. Slightly larger than a Chapstick tube. I'm sure the sirius system would require something similar. And, like the home/auto version, it requires a clear shot to the southern sky or your reception suffers.

      Jeff
      • That small antenna is an outboard backup, to be used to boost the signal when the MyFi's internal antenna can't cut it.

        I own a MyFi and I've found the reception with the internal antenna to be good enough that I don't bother carrying the outboard antenna with me. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

    • Is a small "patch" antenna that can be placed remotely from the receiver. It's about the same size as a deck of cards.

      Reception seems to be possible indoors, with the antenna placed near a window, to about the same extent that you can get a lock on a similarly-placed GPS receiver.

      My friends that have the units say they sometimes but don't always lose the signals going under highway bridges.
  • by Dark Paladin (116525) * <jhummel@@@johnhummel...net> on Thursday May 26, 2005 @06:57PM (#12649812) Homepage
    Evidently Sirius will be teaming up with Mr. Adam Curry who helped to make podcasting famous (and could arguably be the "inventor" of podcasting).

    This kind of a system may benefit both Sirius and Apple. Rather than trying to make some sort of Apple/Sirius bastard child, perform an Audible like system: subscribers to Sirius could get satellite shows and download them as podcasts as well automatically through iTunes, or do a "Sirius Lite" with delayed Podcast versions of shows available for a monthly fee (again, like Audible).

    Apple sells more iPods (especially if they do it as an exclusive), Sirius would get more subscribers (heck, I've no interest in a satellite radio system, but I'd pay a small monthly service fee for good radio/music shows I could auto-sync to my iPod - key word "good"), and consumers - eh, I'll let individuals decide if its good for them or not.
    • Er, bad note and I'm a horrible person, but I meant to write "Apple/Sirius iPod hybrid" instead of "bastard child". I hate it when my coworkers interrupt me in the middle of a post.... ;).
    • Rather than trying to make some sort of Apple/Sirius bastard child, perform an Audible like system: subscribers to Sirius could get satellite shows and download them as podcasts as well automatically through iTunes, or do a "Sirius Lite" with delayed Podcast versions of shows available for a monthly fee (again, like Audible).

      Wow, I have to say that's actually pretty good, and makes a hell of a lot more sense than trying to cram a satellite receiver inside of an iPod. I find myself in too many satellite un

    • FYI: Adam Curry's "Pod Show" [podshow.com]
      is already ON [sirius.com] Sirius everyday.
  • Seriously. I'm a Canadian and I've only "heard" about it on slashdot and other sites.

    What is so great about it and is it available in Canada or outside of North America for that matter?

    I would not want to pay extra for a feature on an iPod if it is useless when I travel to europe.

    • Re:What is Sirus? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Humorously_Inept (777630) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @07:08PM (#12649913) Homepage
      The CRTC has not approved services like Sirius and XM in Canada yet, but expect to have either or both here soon. It's basically high quality digital, (largely) commercial-free, subscription-based radio programming.

      I don't know that there's any technical reason why you couldn't receive satellite radio in Canada, but neither company will sell it to you. Likewise, if you're an American passing through Canada there's no reason why your satellite radio wouldn't work. I guess that reception in Europe and elsewhere would depend on how they have their satellites positioned and what kind of orbits they are in.
      • CBC is campaigning to have a canadianized version of XM approved. (basically XM with some CanCon channels like CBC added to the list.)

        So, yes, if CBC is pushing for it it will almost certainly make it across the border in the near future.
      • I guess that reception in Europe and elsewhere would depend on how they have their satellites positioned and what kind of orbits they are in.

        The Sirius satellites are in inclined, eccentric orbits similar to those used by the Soviet Molniya satellites thirty years ago. They pass low and fast over the southern hemisphere, and spend a long time "hovering" high above the northern hemisphere. This gives a solid line-of-sight pretty much constantly for anywhere north of the equator, even with only three sate

      • Canadian regulations on cable TV and digital radio stations are very limited. If a given American station covers content that can have a Canadian equivalent, then the American station won't be allowed in by the CRTC. This is done to give exclusive content rights to Canadian stations.
    • Sad to say it would be worthless to you in Canada. Both XM and Sirius only broadcast to the US, although I've heard you can get signal on the borders.
    • I would see absolutely no use for ANY Satellite Radio paradigm, and I certainly would resist paying a monthly fee for something I would have little use for. My iPod works fine playing the tunes I want. Tunes I ripped and loaded on it. If I want somone else's playlist, complete with a rude and intrusive DJ, and ever so helpful commercials, I can turn on AM Radio...
    • I know from personal experince that Sirius works just fine in Montreal, though its not available in Alaska. They could add more satellites to increase coverage area, (assuming they have the cash, BIG ASSUMPTION).

      Sirius has an agreement with the CBC to Canadianize Sirius for that market.

      Sirius is great becaue with 65 commercial free channels, there is always something to listen to for every taste. Since each genre has its own station, DJs can play songs that don't get played on regular radio. I listen t
  • "Generally, our current focus is on home entertainment," Whitworth told TMO.

    This is a good idea. Get the technology to a robust place, and then worry about making it portable; of course, it's already in cars, but cars a lot bigger than iPods.

    Overall, the idea is great. I'd love to have satellite radio in my iPod, I'm just not keen on paying for it. Also, will it drain more battery power than playing a song off the HD, or less?

    If it's seemlessly built into the iPod, and the interface can be accessed fr

  • Screw that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101&gmail,com> on Thursday May 26, 2005 @06:59PM (#12649839) Homepage Journal
    When is the iPod going to get a frickin' FM reciever?? One of the things that I hate about Steve Jobs is that if he doesn't like something, then NO ONE should be allowed to have it. He doesn't like FM, therefore no one should listen to FM.

    Would it really be that hard to add a radio? And I don't want satellite radio. Sorry, Steve.

    Ah well. If an iPod had radio, I might tempted to get one, and I've sworn a holy oath never to give Apple any of my money because of their business practices. :D

    • When is the iPod going to get a frickin' FM reciever?? One of the things that I hate about Steve Jobs is that if he doesn't like something, then NO ONE should be allowed to have it. He doesn't like FM, therefore no one should listen to FM.

      You've already got your answer. It's not going to happen as long as Steve has the final say-so.

      That being said, there are third party add-ons which allow you to do exactly what you want: listen to FM on an iPod. The BTI Tunestir seems to be getting a lot of attention of

    • You are three other people do not a target demographic make.

      It's not about adding features. If it were all about feature count, Netscape would be the best browser ever.

      The iPod serves a simple purpose. It does it well, it is not ugly while doing it, and it is easy to use. Please do not suggest that FM radio would not further complicate the device, because it certainly would.

      Besides, why would you want to listen to the utter crap which is today's ClearChannel dominated FM radio landscape? Do you not

      • "Besides, why would you want to listen to the utter crap which is today's ClearChannel dominated FM radio landscape? Do you not have enough advertisements and reptition in your life?"

        NPR, Rush Limpbutt, etc etc. Plently of people would like to be able to tune into news and talk radio on an Ipod. The idea that he's unique in wanting this feature is laughable. I'd venture that 90% of Ipod users music is that same stuff playing on your local FM station. What you think that Ipod owners are somehow unique and d
      • Besides, why would you want to listen to the utter crap which is today's ClearChannel dominated FM radio landscape? Do you not have enough advertisements and reptition in your life?

        Yea most of it is crap, but some of it isnt :) NPR ... I like the john and ken show (although thats AM here in southern california). Also, apparently you dont goto a gym? Most gyms have 4 or 5 televisions in a room and they broadcast their audio over FM. It really helps kill the time.

        What I really want from the ipod is O

        • What I really want from the ipod is OGG support ... im sick of closed formats. Which is why im sticking with my iriver :)


          Amen on the ogg part. Maybe with QT7 we'll see Apple open up a little. I know the machine is capable of decoding it, and now QuickTime certainly could support the codec.
    • Re:Screw that (Score:3, Interesting)

      I've thought about buying the Tunestir [ipodlounge.com] , because I like to listen to NPR on the train in the AM. But thanks to RadioRecorder [versiontracker.com] and iPodder [versiontracker.com], I get to do that now anyway - so I don't think I'm missing that FM receiver so much anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 26, 2005 @07:00PM (#12649850)
    From TFA:

    said the company has "had discussions with everyone," including makers of cell phones, digital music players and other devices.

    It wasn't just Apple, its just a generalized thing
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @07:01PM (#12649856)
    Sirrus: Please, please put us in the iPod!

    Steve Jobs: Nope.

    Sirrus: I'll be your friend!

    Steve Jobs: Nope.

    Sirrus: If you don't put us in the iPod, I'll sign an exclusive deal with RealPlayer!

    (pause)

    Sirrus & Steve Jobs: AHAHAHAHH!

    Sirrus: That's a good one. But seriously, how about putting us in the iPod?

    Steve Jobs: Nope.

    -Crow T. Trollbot

  • Equals battery time of about three minutes. Now we know that Apple would not sell such a device, so that must mean that they have developed a nuke-battery pack that can last a couple of hours.

    This advancement in batteries is the breakthrough the planet earth has been waiting for. I hope Steve gets a Nobel for it.

    What's also amazing is how Apple has been able to keep it under wraps and out of the blogs for so long.
    • No joke. My Blaupunkt SR04 runs *hot*. Unless there's a new chipset with drastically lower power consumption, a Sirius iPod is going to require an RTG.
  • The first idea that comes to mind is the ability to have Sirius capabilities in your car using an iPod to tape adapter, Sirius at work, gym, home, fishing, everywhere. Then when radio starts sucking, switch over to MP3s in the same device. Very cool if the subscription price is the same.
    • The first idea that comes to mind is the ability to have Sirius capabilities in your car using an iPod to tape adapter, Sirius at work, gym, home, fishing, everywhere.

      You can already do this with a plug'n'play Sirius tuner. Pop the tuner out of your car dock and into your home dock, then into your boom box dock for camping, and into the car dock on your boat for fishing.
  • Perhaps pressure from mobile phone manufacturers prompted Jobs to take Sirius a little more siriusly. iPod's cool but let's face it, it's main selling point is cachet. Apple needs to look into expanding iPod's repertoire now that serious competition is just around the corner in an integrated device like the Nokia N91, which offers multiformat music playback with on the fly purchasing and download, web browsing, telephony, messaging, PDA functionality, gaming, etc.
  • Podcasting. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by demonic-halo (652519) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @07:08PM (#12649912)
    Since Sirrus has lots of Satallite Radio channels. Maybe Apple can sell Podcasts of Sirrus radio channels to iTunes 4.9 users.

    Not quite satallite radio, but a neat way of delievering quality content to iPods.

    This way people could copy yesterday's episode of Howard Stern to their iPod, and listen to it inside an underground bunker with no outside communication.
  • Sound quality? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SamMichaels (213605) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @07:08PM (#12649917)
    Aside from having to strap an antenna on your head to use this (you'll know what I mean if you've ever used any portable satellite radio), the awful and somewhat embarrassing sound quality will be VERY noticeable when it's played right beside actual CD quality audio. It's gotten so bad with both Sirius and XM that normal non-nerds are complaining about it.

    Most of the time you ignore it...but going from a track ripped in Apple lossless format to satellite radio will be like jumping back 10 years in technology.
    • the awful and somewhat embarrassing sound quality will be VERY noticeable when it's played right beside actual CD quality audio. It's gotten so bad with both Sirius and XM that normal non-nerds are complaining about it.

      Are they? I'm pretty nerdy, and I haven't noticed any SQ problems with Sirius. Of course, since Sirius dynamically reallocates bitrate to the channels that need it most at any given moment (S-PLEX), the sound quality can vary from time to time. Sounds like you either have a problem with you
      • Re:Sound quality? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by SamMichaels (213605)
        or you tuned in at just the wrong time.

        I love this Microsoft-centric way of thinking. With XP, you only have to reboot once every 7 days and reinstall once every 9 months! The sound quality should be CD quality (since that's what they advertise) ALL the time.

        Regardless, my point is that it's absolutely obvious of the quality difference when played directly after actual CD quality sound.
        • I love this Microsoft-centric way of thinking.

          Wow, that came out of nowhere. Does your knee always jerk this much?

          The sound quality should be CD quality (since that's what they advertise) ALL the time.

          No, that's not what they advertise. Close to CD quality, maybe (and it is much closer than FM), but I've never heard Sirius claim they actually provided CD quality sound. Do you have a link to an example of this claim?
    • The sound quality on Sirius is noticably better than on XM. I'd liken Sirius to an 128k mp3 stream whereas XM I'd be kind to rate it 96k stream. I took the sound quality on Sirius for granted until I got a new Acura with XM built-in and a free trial.

      Overall, XM is horrible IMO. Moronic DJs, smaller channel line-up, tiny tiny song descriptions that often had to be mangled to fit and to top it off, poor sound quality. Contributing factor why I had no problem letting go of the car 6 months later. I'm much hap
      • Re:Sound quality? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mr2001 (90979)
        Agreed. My mom has XM in her new Accord, and she noticed that Sirius in my Corolla sounded better. Sirius's artist and song title fields are at least 3 times longer than XM's, IIRC.

        And for political talk fans, Sirius carries a full Air America feed (as well as their own TalkLeft stream, and two corresponding conservative streams) instead of the mangled Clear Channel version that XM has, which replaces some of Air America's shows with others like Ed Schultz and (*gag*) Alan Colmes.
  • I own an Archos Gmini 200 [archos.com] and love it. The 20GB model was cheaper and physically smaller than the 20GB model iPod, and it works nearly as well. The only reasons I'd ever really want an iPod is 1) if I suddenly developed a fear of being considered un-trendy and 2) for that touch wheel! The Gmini has a nice music library and everything, but it is sometimes a pain to scroll through it (you have to hold the little nub down and wait for it to accelerate).

    Lacking the easy scrolling is not a tragedy, but not ha
    • by eobanb (823187)
      You do know that iTunes can batch-convert WMAs into MP3 or AAC, right? And that AAC, a *standard* audio format, sounds a lot better than WMA? As for the size difference of the Gmini veresus the iPod, smaller player almost always means smaller display, or smaller controls, or smaller battery, or all of these things. Really now, consider an iPod. The seamless music management and better interface alone make it worth it.
      • You do realize that if you convert a lossy format (WMA) into another lossy format (AAC), it's going to sound worse regardless of whether the one is better than the other, right?
  • Price? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PipOC (886408)
    Attaching a sattelite radio devie is going to mean at the very least a $50 price bump. The iPods price is already ridiculous enough.
  • This seems like better news for Apple than for Sirius. The boom in iPod sales, while not over yet by any means, isn't what it was six months ago (where inventory was hard to keep). Adding a new feature not present in any current iPod means that a sizable part of the satellite radio market becomes Apple customers as well (even if they already have an iPod or three).

    But Sirius, fundamentally as a subscription service, is most likely going to sell a similar number of subscriptions regardless of whether the
  • "Sirius fishing for anyone willing to partner with them to sell more stuff."

    Nothing to see here. Move along.
  • Terrific! (Score:2, Funny)

    by nolaf (740823) *
    I hope they agree on something soon and get the technology to us.
  • by cosmicrob (577842) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @07:35PM (#12650112)
    ..is that you *don't talk about talking with Steve Jobs* seriously.. it pisses him off.

  • Hear that, that static? That is the sound of Clear Channel execs loosing steam from their ears. One thing that the sat. radio folks don't have is market penetration with their devices. You can go out of your way to get one in your car; sometimes they come standard. But really, I don't know anyone with sat. radio.

    On the other hand, I know about 20 people who have iPods. And it looks like that trend is going to continue. Although you'll probably have to upgrade your iPod to make this work--or maybe ge
  • To say that a dinner between Mel and Steve amounts to being "in talks" is jumping the gun a bit. More of a "feeling out" perhaps. It would take months of negotiations to get a deal hammered out, not just a few dinners between the head honchos. Further, I highly doubt they could cram the necessary hardware into an iPod and still have the chicness that Steve requires with a decent battery time.

    Wishful thinking in my eyes and who knows, Apple has suprised us before with their outsourced engineering. ;)

    That s
  • apple.

    "If we don't do a deal, our current business plan is just fine," Karmazin said.

    Consumer choice.
    New ipod with satrad
    OR
    satrad with player and option to buy tunes through satrad?

    Apples choice.
    Next generation ipod with compelling feature. Repackage same old with enhancements to player like better fidelity, more formats, ...
    Which will sell more ipods, rpods, or irpods?

    Serius and XM choice.
    Device and market from scratch or build on hottest thing since sliced bread?

    Cost of entry and ROI with Apple will
  • I wonder if the name of the "anonymous reader" who submitted this story rhimes on Shmarmazin:

    "[...]his company is in talks with Apple [...]" should read: "had discussions with everyone"

    And "Karmazin met with Steve Jobs Monday" should be: Monday night at "D: All things digital", he pestered some industry figures he accidently stumbled upon. Steve Jobs most likely thought: "Who is this guy and should I call security to get rid of him?"

  • Apple being the only company that doesnt act evil on Slashdot should take a look at itself.

    They claimed that bringing the radio to the ipod would add complexity that users "don't want".

    Well, I'd prefer to listen to FREE radio broadcasts than pony up yet cash to yet another service provider.

  • Siruis programming will be podcasted whether they like it or not. Someone will rip sirius content and post it to filesharing sites, and then it will find its way onto a podcasting network.

    Sirius can turn this into a money-making equation if the cost of receiving podcasted content wins out over the delay of waiting for pirated Sirius material on the internet.

    I think Sirius can do this. It shouldn't cost too much more than having an iPod and a Sirius subscription at the same time. But, Apple has the upper

  • Offtopic, I know, but I've heard a few grumblings (on Howard Stern, among other not-quite-trustworthy places) that satellite radio is really just a testing ground to move to a new model of delivering satellite TV. Anyone else think this might be a possibility?

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