Neutered iPhone App Is A Sirius Choke Job6:01 PM EST Thu. Jun. 18, 2009
Oh, Sirius XM. We had such high hopes for you as we heard rumors of a Sirius XM app in the works for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch. And while you've delivered the application -- available for download through the App Store starting Thursday -- you took the wind right out of your own sails, telling us that the Sirius XM app for iPhone isn't going to include Howard Stern; isn't going to include MLB and NFL play-by-play; and isn't going to include NASCAR.
That's a lot to leave out, even with everything you've included. Available channels, according to Sirius XM, include NPR, Oprah Radio, MLB Home Plate and Mad Dog Radio, and music channels such as the Grateful Dead Channel, Radio Margaritaville and Siriusly Sinatra. Listeners have 120 music channels available overall, in fact, and can purchase what they're hearing on Sirius XM's iPhone app through iTunes.
A Sirius XM press release indicated only that Howard Stern, NFL Play-by-Play, MLB Play-by-Play and Sirius NASCAR Radio would not be available for iPhone or iPod Touch and that "listeners will continue to be able to access that programming through the platforms they are currently offered on."
Sirius did clarify things a bit more in its iPhone app's FAQ page, stating, "Sirius and XM offer all of the channels for which we have mobile-performance rights. For that reason, certain channels which may be available on your satellite radio or online radio service may not be available on a mobile device like the iPhone."
Even though the app brings a healthy amount of Sirius XM's programming to the iPhone, it's hard to ignore what it lacks. Music is great, but the iPhone already has access to music. Lots of it. From all over the place, through iTunes, through other applications, through everything.
Being able to listen to one of the most popular talk show hosts in the world? Being able to call up live NASCAR, MLB and NFL games on the iPhone? Those would have been Sirius XM hooks, especially given how popular both Stern and game-day sports broadcasting are. A missed opportunity, Sirius XM -- unless you're working to change things and not telling us.
At any rate, according to the press release, current Sirius XM premium Internet radio subscribers can download the app from Apple's App Store free of charge. Anyone with basic Sirius XM online service needs to upgrade to the premium -- $2.99 a month -- to access the application, and users who don't have satellite radio already can pay $12.95 a month for a basic, stand-alone package.
Sirius XM is also offering users a free seven-day trial with the iPhone app.