Back on March 17th, Apple announced the new Apple OS 3.0 for the iPhone. This upgrade to the operating system which adds over 100 features will be available for iPhone users absolutely free. First generation iPhones will not be able to receive every single feature but, they will receive most of them while the newer 3G iPhones will get all the new features. It should also be noted that users of the iPod Touch, which also uses the same operating system, will be able to purchase the update for a mere $9.95. There is no official release date yet, other than “Summer of this year.” As we already know, during the 2008 Q4 conference call, Sirius XM officially announced that they would be coming out with an iPhone application sometime during Q2. What does this new OS 3.0 mean for Sirius XM?

1. Subscription Abilities directly through the iStore – With the 3.0 update, Apple has given app producers the ability to add in a subscription service directly into the app. Let’s say that someone downloaded the Sirius XM iPhone app, but did not have a subscription. Utilizing the new subscription API, they could request payment right there through the iStore, process the payment immediately, and start the subscription instantaneously.  Not too shabby.

2. Stereo over Bluetooth –  With current phones, you can talk on your phone over Bluetooth, but you cannot listen to music unless you buy accessories (that are not technically compatible with the iPhone) or hack the phone. OS 3.0 adds in a functionality that I thought Apple was crazy for not adding before. Now, you will be able to listen to all of your music in stereo quality over your wireless Bluetooth headset… which makes it much more convenient to listen to your new Sirius XM subscription.

3. In-application Commerce – This feature is not a new one, but has been advanced in OS 3.0 and gives Sirius XM the opportunity to provide information regarding the music they are playing and place a “Buy It Now” button, allowing users to instantly purchase the song or track they are listening to through the iTunes store, providing an additional revenue source for Sirius XM.

4. New media player – OS 3.0 has a wonderful feature allowing the phone and application to automatically detect what type of connection you have to the internet, and customize the stream based on that connection. If you have a 3G connection, the stream can be adjusted to play optimally for 3G. If you are on an Edge connection, the stream can be adjusted to play optimally for Edge. This allows Sirius XM to provide the absolute best quality of radio available depending the type of connection.

5. Subscription Calendars – The possibility of actually developing a “community” throughout the Sirius XM music network is significantly expanded through the availability of the new calendar support. Sirius XM could develop calendars for each individual channel. Through the subscription service (no charge to subscribe to calendars), your iPhone calendar will automatically be updated on a daily basis with the shows that are on your favorite channel. This feature could be used to update you when one of your favorite shows is coming on or when a special event is happening. Alerting people to their favorite shows could definitely keep them coming back for more.

Here are some interesting numbers from the Apple presentation linked above:

  • 80: The number of countries the iPhone is available in.
  • 76: The number of countries the iStore is available in.
  • 17 million: The number of iPhones sold through year end 2008
  • 30 million: The number of iPod Touch’s sold through year end 2008
  • 800 million: The number of app downloads through year end 2008

In summary, the OS 3.0 update has the capabilities of significantly expanding the possibilities for the Sirius XM iPhone application. Time will only tell what Sirius XM will do with those possibilities. As the numbers above indicate, the iPhone app has the potential to draw a huge number of subscribers and we all know that once they start listening, they will never stop.

[Thanks  SiriusBuzz Forum! ]

Position: Long Sirius XM, no position AAPL