Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Armchair technologists love to predict The Next Big Thing. Getting that right, however, requires a look to the past. Two prevailing technology trends of the last decade that are still influencing trends today are portability and multi-purpose devices.

This week, XM Satellite Radio Chairman Gary Parsons told an audience at a Banc of America Securities investor’s conference in New York City that his company’s future includes delivering its service to a host of gadgets – a move that incorporates both these trends.

“We would see the ability for consumer electronics manufacturers to perpetuate the availability of XM’s service down to clock radios and DVD players,” says Parsons, according to a Reuters report of the meeting.

It’s a pretty compelling scenario, and one that makes sense for XM and its competitor, Sirius Satellite Radio, both of which are in a race to grow their subscriber rolls and subsequent profits. XM Radio currently has 3.2 million subscribers; Sirius 1.2 million. However, neither company is profitable today.

Currently, XM sells a portable satellite radio player, MyFi, that allows subscribers to listen to XM while on the go, but it’s a standalone device. Sirius has no comparable offering at this time, but expects to enter into the mobile market soon.

“We plan to offer a portable, wearable device by the end of the year,” says Jim Collins, spokesperson for Sirius. Collins couldn’t speak specifically to Sirius’s plans for device compatibility, but says “What Mr. Parsons was saying is something that’s of interest to us as well. We’re both exploring this.”

So what would happen if a satellite radio option started popping up on DVD players and cell phones? The inclusion of satellite radio capabilities onto portable devices would likely spur subscriber growth for the satellite radio industry, and may alter consumer purchasing behavior with regards to digital music downloads.

Here’s one shakeup scenario: If consumers could get satellite radio on an MP3 player, the argument goes, would they download fewer songs? And if satellite radio were available as an additional feature on MP3 players, cell phones, DVD players, and other devices, would people be more likely to subscribe to the service?

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Computing

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me