A la carte radios
Tyler - I have seen a lot of talk that a la carte may spur sub growth. What I haven't seen mentioned is that retail is going to be effected positively. Everybody talks OEM but a la carte radios are probably going to be a retail story for 2008 and a year or 2 after that before it works its way into OEM correct? This could provide the retail boost satellite needs - new Radios with sub rates as low as $6.99 per month. I like it.
Retail vs. OEM
The retail component of SDARS is very important, and many people simply do miss that point. While radio is predominantly a medium for autos, the idea of creating a content library and being able to take it with you is a more recent development.
We will now see memory installed directly into cars. This allows playlists, etc to be utilized while driving without mounting a device in the car. However, what if you want to take your playlist with you? Again, you are stuck.
What we need is a solution that lets you take yuor subscription from the dashboard to the gym, to the house, to another car. SDARS is not ready for that yet, nor is the business model.
Stepping away from SDARS, look at a membership in auto club AAA. A AAA membership ties to the driver, not the car. This gives a AAA membership value. I could be driving a friends car, and because I am a member, still get service from AAA.
Right now, SDARS gets multiple subscriptions from people simply because there exists a disconnect from the car to anywhere else. Personally, I have always opted for a plug n play unit expressly for this purpose. Having a Stiletto gives me the the most value in my subscription. However, I was an early adopter of SDARS, and will spend the money on the hardware to make this happen. Spending money on radio is still a very foreign concept to many.
The reason OEM will be such a driver in the coming years is because it is the platform where consumers will be exposed to SDARS for "free". The radio comes with the car, and there theoretically is no charge for the service for a period of time (the price is actully built into the price of the car or subsidized). If something similar were offered at retail, you would see the retail channel spike substantially.
Post mereger a la carte radios, or any new hardware capable of creating play lists will be very good sellers. With no big jumps in the plug n play over the last 18 months, it is time for new units that will develop upgrades, and spur consumers to try.
This is a little of topic but I just wanted to chime in and say that I think either the merger being approved or denied is going to spike sales. I the only 3 people I have talked to about SATRAD that do not yet have it have all said that they are waiting for the merger before they buy. I also have a friend that is on XM and wants to switch but is instead just waiting to see if they merge. I think this pending merger is holding back a lot more people from buying than people know.