Jackson, Miss. – After a year-long delay, Sirius Satellite Radio today launched its service in four markets.
Sirius president and CEO, Joe Clayton, said 500 to 1000 people lined up at Cowboy Maloney’s store here, the primary launch site, to hear demonstrations of the service. ‘That’s more people than we had waiting with satellite TV,’ said Clayton. He also noted that the store expected to sell 25 to 50 Sirius units today alone.
In all, 200 storefronts are participating in today’s launch in Jackson, Denver, Phoenix and Houston. Sirius ready tuners and antennas began trickling into stores this week, with Ultimate Electronics, the primary retailer for Denver claiming as of yesterday, it had received Kenwood tuners in its Denver stores and Jensen product in both Denver and Phoenix locations. Clayton said that a total of 10 to 15,000 Sirius products were now ‘in the field.’
Kicking off the launch last night, was a country western concert at Cowboy Maloney’s, where 400 to 500 guests, including the mayor and state government officials, were treated to a concert by Randy Travis, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Tracy Lawrence and Rhonda Vincent & the Rage.
Clayton expressed unyielding optimism for the success of the product claiming, one hour after the launch, ‘This has exceeding my wildest expectations. The retailers, the customers are excited so I think we’re off to a great start.’
Sirius Radio has partnered with aftermarket suppliers who have a collective market share of only 22 percent compared to competitor XM, whose partners who have a 47 percent collective share in 2001 in-dash CD unit sales, according to NPD INTELECT, Port Washington. Sirius partners include Kenwood, Jensen, Panasonic and Clarion (as well as Audiovox, in the future). XM partners include Pioneer, Sony and Alpine, with Audiovox expected to ship later this year.
Clayton said, ‘We’ll be signing additional car stereo manufacturers and those negotiations are taking place right now. I fully expect that gap to be narrowed, in fact, any smart car stereo manufacturer will want to represent both services.’
Retailers said they were excited about the launch of a second satellite service and they expect the added publicity and competition to stimulate sales overall.
‘I think it will help the category,’ said Paul Gosswiller, merchandise manager for Audio Express, Phoenix. ‘I’m hoping to hit 20 to 30 pieces per month for Sirius and XM combined. Now you have two companies talking about it so there’s a debate and now you wonder what’s the difference. One has a satellite in a different position and one charges a bit more. You demo the different stations. I’m not going to push one over the other.’