16 September 2004

XM + Streaming = Big Fun

XM Radio is planning to provide a streaming service to complement its satellite radio service. Currently, XM Radio broadcasts special-interest stations (80s, symphonic, hip-hop etc.) to custom receivers available for your car and transferrable anywhere. The receivers are actually pretty sexy looking.

Where is all of this going?

The /. article has some good information on similar services and their differences (and similarities). XM's only competion in satellite radio is SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Both seem about the same and have a wide variety of features--it's not just specialty stations. They have original content such as interviews and news, along with artist and news specials. When they first came out, I often argued with a friend who didn't think that they would survive (even though I'm not interested in the service personally). I'm glad to see they're still around and have thrived enough to start expanding.

Their Internet competitors are all of the streaming utilities out there now. Most provide similar content to XM and Sirius, but without the frills of producing new content. I had a previous entry (based on a Wired article) that collected a short list of Internet radio providers. A /.er from the recent article raves on Yahoo's LAUNCHcast. I used to listen to Live365 quite a bit (though there were many commercials), then it was SHOUTcast (open-source and now hosting Radio from the Ether), now it's mostly Rhapsody and a few classical and German stations that simulcast on the Internet.

Internet and XM radio is a slightly different mindset from Rhapsody and iTunes music services: radio is more "push" and the music services are more "pull." Although Rhapsody offers many special-interest stations similar to specialty Internet radio, I suspect that people primarily use it to chose their music. As XM moves towards the home and Internet, Rhapsody is moving towards integration with your stereo. Many inexpensive devices exist to bridge the gap between my geeky home setup of laptop + wireless network + stereo cable, and a single audio unit.

As with the merger of TiVo and Netflix services, the merger of customizable, unlimited audio content is a tangible realization of the great media convergence that has been hinted at for many years. The 50s were the golden age of television--2000 may be the golden age of on-demand media.

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[ posted by sstrader on 16 September 2004 at 10:54:42 PM in Home Network & Gadgets ]