By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
In deference to the last week's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, XM Satellite Radio postponed the launch of its service in Dallas/Fort Worth and San Diego scheduled for Sept. 12.
XM could not be reached at press time to determine a reschedule date.
In the two weeks prior to the event, Dallas/Fort Worth and San Diego retailers held wine and cheese parties and seminars for preferred customers to educate consumers about the new service. Some retailers said they had signed up a dozen or more customers on waiting lists and claimed the initial public response looked promising.
Ads in movie theaters also began airing around the country in August in preparation for the Sept. 12 launch.
On Sept. 5, XM announced that shipments of XM tuners had arrived in the United States with 100,000 units expected to be available by December, while GM announced that it would extend XM availability to 20 models by the fall of 2002. This November, GM will begin offering XM tuners on its Cadillac DeVilles and Sevilles.
Retailers said that the pre-launch ran smoothly.
Alan Binder, owner of Progressive Mobile Electronics, San Diego, said he had taken pre-orders from 15 to 20 customers for XM tuners. He added that the RF modulated unit accounted for 90 percent of his pre-orders.
"There are tens of millions of cars out there that don't have the right equipment, so it makes sense that RF is the most popular," he noted.
Dan Hodgson, senior merchanding VP for Crutchfield, said he had received "several dozen" pre-orders. "At this point the commercials are only in theaters so we're extremely encouraged by the strong initial response," he said.
A spokesman for Custom Stereo and Cellular in Dallas said one store had taken five pre-orders.
Local retailers participating in the launch in San Diego include Circuit City, Best Buy, Progressive Mobile Electronics, The Good Guys, Tweeter, Etc and Al & Ed's Autosound. Dallas participants include Circuit City, Best Buy, Tweeter, Etc, Car Toys, Earmark Car Audio, Custom Stereo and Cellular, Hawk Electronics and Sears.
Calls to local merchants found that The Good Guys on Sports Arena Blvd. had taken two pre-orders for XM tuners and a salesman at Circuit City in Point Loma said he personally had taken one pre-order.
Following the Dallas/Fort Worth and San Diego launch, covering 8 million people, XM expects to make service available in the Southwest (encompassing 55 million people) on Oct. 18, followed by the rest of the country in November.
For its part, XM rival Sirius Satellite Radio said it is on track for a nationwide launch in the fourth quarter. Sirius also recently announced that Porsche will offer its radios, providing customers a choice between XM and Sirius service beginning in the 2003 calendar year.
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