Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sirius hooks up iPhone to premium satellite radio

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sirius XM Radio unveiled a dock on Wednesday that lets iPhone users listen to premium satellite radio programing, including shock jock Howard Stern, a feature missing from previous iPhone software.

The $120 XM SkyDock turns Apple Inc's iPhone or iPod Touch into a satellite radio receiver.

The dock, which will go on sale in the next few months, is powered through a car's cigarette adapter. It comes with technology that eases installation by tapping into the car's radio system. It also allows users to flag songs they hear and buy them via Apple's iTunes software.

Sirius XM hopes to boost its subscriber base of 19 million. It gets most of its new subscribers when people buy cars with satellite radio receivers built in.

The company debuted the dock at a product showcase in New York, its biggest since Sirius completed its acquisition of XM Satellite Radio last year.

Earlier this month. Sirius said it lost some 300,000 subscribers who buy their own radios in the second quarter. It gained about 120,000 users through car sales.

With auto sales slowing, Sirius would like to get some of the tens of millions of iPhone and iPod touch owners.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has granted preliminary approval to the dock.

Sirius' first bid for iPhone users came with a software application released in June that lets fee-paying users stream Sirius' Internet package of music and talk stations.

Satellite radio analysts and Internet enthusiasts balked when they discovered that premium content such as Major League Baseball, NFL Football and Howard Stern were not available.

Shares of the company, which earlier this year secured financing from John Malone's Liberty Media Corp to stave off looming debt problems, have risen sharply this month, after it raised its income outlook, citing cost cuts and a potential rebound in automobile sales.

The company on Wednesday also showed several new radios priced below $100, as well as a $150 tabletop model.

The stock traded at 65 cents a share, off 6.5 per cent on Wednesday on Nasdaq.

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