Satellite Radio Launches
By David Dritsas
Looks like 2001 will be a digital radio odyssey. It's a shameless cultural reference to use—certain to be overused this year—but perhaps no better relevant than for the companies behind digital satellite radio, who, like Arthur C. Clarke's astronauts chasing uncharted territories near Jupiter, are launching satellites to capture a market that pundits laud as a tremendous opportunity. But back on the ground, let's not forget the upgrade of analog radio to digital, which is also making strides, albeit at a slightly slower pace.
At CES, retailers can get a better look at what the various companies are doing to support this new product category. Satellite services promise multiple revenue streams, with both the sale of the hardware and a cut for selling the service plan. Several agencies and media outlets, including the Consumer electronics Association and the Wall Street Journal, have been releasing highly positive statements regarding the potential for earnings in this market. The trick for consumers, however, will be in deciding which service to purchase—not a simple task. Both services—Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio—cost $9.95 per month; both can broadcast approximately 100 separate stations. Manufacturers from all over the CE world are planning car and home receivers to work with one company or the other's service. Potential customers may turn to the retailer for guidance.