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The industry is predicting the best holiday season yet for satellite radio, fueled not only by anticipation of Howard Stern moving to Sirius, but also by new low-cost receivers that dip below $50.
XM says it expects to win over a million new subscribers for the fourth quarter, and Sirius predicts it will run close behind at 825,000 new subscribers.
The Delphi XM Roady2 is now available at $29.99 with a special instant-rebate through Dec. 1 (and $49.99, thereafter). XM said the promotion is in response to a Sirius rebate in October that brought the price of a Starmate receiver down to $19.99 at RadioShack.
Sirius was expected to begin shipping at press time two new $49 plug-and-play receivers called the Sirius One and XACT Visor. The models, as well as the XM Roady2, all include car kits and place the products in what an XM spokesman called “the sweet spot of consumer electronics at the low end.”
This season also marks the debut of the first wearable headset satellite radio that is combined with an MP3 player. The Sirius unit called the S50 is expected to be in stores this month at a suggested retail price of $279 after rebates. Although XM previewed two similar units from Samsung and Dell, it recently stated that the products have been delayed until the first quarter of next year (see story p. 1).
Retailers say that Howard Stern’s name will be on the lips of every floor salesperson over the next few months. “When somebody asks for satellite radio, I don’t care which one they buy,” said Paul Gosswiller, purchasing manager for Audio Express, Scottsdale, Ariz. “But the first question for the next 90 days is, 'Do you listen to Howard Stern?’ After that, things change right there. Then you ask about baseball or football. But Stern is the main question.”
April Horace, analyst for Denver-based Hoefer & Arnett, said she expects Sirius will advertise Howard Stern’s upcoming presence more heavily in markets where he is not currently on the air. Sirius would not give specific advertising plans at press time, but promised “significant advertising across the board in November … TV, print, everything,” according to a spokesman.
XM launched a pre-emptive strike last month when it gave away a free satellite radio to every fan who attended the first game of the 2005 World Series in Chicago. Calling it the largest giveaway in the 102-year history of the World Series, XM presented approximately 40,000 ticket holders at the game with a coupon for the new Delphi XM RoadyXT (SRP $79.99). Attendees, however, were required to prepay for three months of XM service before they could cash in the coupon online.
Here is a sampling of the newer satellite radio products to be available this fall:
• XM Xpress from Audiovox is one of the smallest plug-and-play receivers with a five-line display. The unit has a built-in FM transmitter, remote control and several vehicle kits adapters. The unit is shipping now at a suggested retail price of $99.99.
Under the Terk brand of Audiovox is a digital adaptor that allows any radio with Radio Data Service (RDS) to receive XM when it is combined with an XM Direct tuner. RDS radios are available from approximately 21 car makers. The Terk Smart Digital Adapter has a suggested retail price of $69.99, and the XM Direct tuner has a suggested retail price of $49.99.
• Delphi XM RoadyXT is a small, sleek XM plug-and-play receiver with built-in FM transmitter, brighter display than previous Roady models and new back-lit buttons. It has a customizable sports ticker, stock ticker and favorite tune alert. The RoadyXT is shipping now at a suggested retail price of $79.99.
• Audiovox Receiver/Car Kit Combo SIRCMB5 is a plug-and-play receiver with FM transmitter with song, artist and favorite sports team alerts as well as a score listing. It has a five-line display at a suggested retail price of $99.99.
• Under the Sirius brand is Sirius One, a compact plug-and-play receiver with reversible display so the unit may be mounted on the visor, dash, console or windshield. It comes with mounting kits for all these options. It is shipping now at a suggested retail price of $49.99. The SiriusConnect SIR-ALP10T tuner is the first Sirius tuner to offer real-time traffic as well as audio programming. It works with the Alpine NVE-N872A navigation system. The SIR-ALP10T ships this month at a suggested retail price of $299.99.
• Also under the Sirius brand is the Starmate Replay, a small plug-and-play receiver. It has a 44-minute memory buffer with replay, fast-forward and pause. Other features include a five-line screen, four-way navigation button and alerts for when a favorite song or artist is airing or a favorite sports team is playing. It ships with all car accessories at $79 after rebates, with an optional home kit at $39.99.
• Also, the Sirius S50 wearable headset player is a combination Sirius/MP3 player. It allows users to capture and store up to 50 hours of Sirius content, or a mix of Sirius programming and MP3/WMA files. When the unit is placed in a docking station, users can download Sirius content or MP3/WMA files. The S50 is expected to ship early this month at a suggested retail price of $279 after rebate, including a six-hour rechargeable battery and other portable and car docking equipment and accessories.
• The XACT Visor for Sirius has four mounting options and ships with all necessary car kits. It has a one-line display and a rotary knob for changing channels at a suggested retail price of $49.99.
• The Kenwood EZ900HDS in-dash CD/receiver has a built-in Sirius tuner. It also has two additional built-in tuners, one for HD radio and for AM/FM radio. The EZ900HDS offers iPod connection capability (with use of an adaptor), MP3 and WMA capability, and 50-wattx4 built-in power at a suggested retail price of $799. Sirius antenna included.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.