IPod vs. Satellite Radio: The Battle For Consumers' Hearts

 |  Includes: AAPL, SIRI
by: Mario Rizzi

The disruptive capabilities of technology are once again being put to the test as we see Apple’s iPod face the Satellite Radio industry. Who will emerge victorious in this battle to the death? Which technology will gain enough consumer support to survive?

Analysts and technology savvy bloggers have been on their toes carefully documenting each step in the fight, making wild assumptions and absurd predictions. But in the end, the rational thinkers will prevail, and we will see that there is actually no battle of technologies. No single winner of the hearts and ears of all consumers. There is of course a lot of competition, but in the end, both technologies will be mainstream.

The consumers will choose
For those consumers who have the time, money and desire to download a weeks worth of songs and listen to them each day, you have the iPod. Now with video iPods, iPhones, and many cars coming standard with mp3 player jacks, the technology is becoming even easier to integrate into every aspect of our lives. With over 100 million iPods sold, not to mention millions of other mp3 players, obviously the concept has great appeal. But as wonderful as this seems, it certainly doesn’t appeal to everybody.

Personally, and I know I’m not alone here, I don’t have time to download a thousand songs onto a personal music player, iPod or other. And at 99 cents per song I don’t really have the budget either (although I could always go the shady, free download route). Most importantly however, I just don’t want to continuously listen to the same songs I have already downloaded. Over the years I’ve amassed thousands of songs on my PC, but I still want even more variety. I would rather pay a set subscription fee to Sirius or XM Satellite Radio and have a hundred different radio channels, each playing a different genre of music, not to mention live news and talk shows. Also, as opposed to traditional radio, the content is mostly commercial free.

The radio star lives!
Which brings me to another point. For those consumers who choose not to spend a dime and still want to enjoy music and talk shows, they can still listen to traditional broadcast radio. There are literally billions of radio receivers in America and thousands of radio stations spanning the country. Radio was a technology that was supposed to dwindle with the advent of modern televisions and video entertainment. Obviously this has not happened. “Video killed the radio star”… I think not.

Use history as a guide
You can have a DVD player with a huge movie library, yet still watch regular television and cable, and still go out to the movies every couple of weeks. Obviously when you get down to consumer entertainment desires, we see that more than one medium can exist. The same will be true for the audio music industry. Radio, iPod, Sat-Rad, audiobooks, internet radio, etc… they may all compete for your love (ear time), but they’re still one big happy family.