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Sony, XM Pact Is Latest Sat Deal

Sony has licensed XM Satellite Radio's technology for home, portable and car audio products and will work with XM to develop a portable audio product that connects to both a home or car stereo system.

For car audio, the agreement covers aftermarket sales and OEM sales to automakers.

The two companies' goal is "to make it a portable Sony product along the lines of a Discman," said Dan Murphy, XM's retail sales and marketing VP.

The engineering teams "will focus on developing a true portable product," but the feasibility of a battery-powered Discman-type portable won't be determined until the development process is well under way, he added. Potential challenges include the technology's power-consumption and line-of-sight-antenna requirements. Product details were unavailable at press time.

Other XM licenses are: Alpine and Pioneer for OEM and aftermarket sales; Delco, Clarion and Motorola for OEM sales; and Sharp for home and portable audio. In addition, GM has already placed an order with Delco for XM-equipped CD and cassette head units for availability to consumers early in calendar-year 2001. Previously, GM said it was targeting a launch date in the 2002 model year.

At CES, XM also plans to announce Audiovox as a licensee for OEM sales.

SDARS competitor Sirius has licensing agreements for OEM and aftermarket sales with Alpine, Clarion, Delco, Panasonic, Recoton and Visteon. Sirius has also secured a commitment from Ford to offer Sirius products as early as the first quarter of 2001.