Is the SkyDock the Limit for Sirius XM?

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There's buzz building over a Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) event next week, at which the satellite-radio giant may introduce some new hardware.

One of the new items being rolled out, according to industry websites and Orbitcast, is the SkyDock plug-in device, which turns any iPod touch or iPhone into a satellite-radio receiver.

The SkyDock itself isn't rumor-mill chatter. Sirius XM has recently filed compliance reports with the FCC detailing the device. It may or may not be introduced next week, but it's definitely in the works.

Will that even matter? The Sirius XM streaming application that hit Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) App Store hasn't lived up to the initial hype.

"The number should not be a significant number," CEO Mel Karmazin responded during Sirius XM's second-quarter conference call this month, when asked about the subscriber impact of the Apple program.

Despite a healthy marketing push, there are two logical theories behind the Sirius iPhone app's self-admitted insignificance, early on:

  • iPhone and iPod touch owners have access to free ad-supported online radio, including Pandora, CBS's (NYSE: CBS  ), and Yahoo!'s (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) Y! Music. Sirius XM offers superior programming, but it's not the same kind of quality disparity that drivers experience when their only alternatives are typically stodgy terrestrial radio or old CDs.
  • Unlike the conventional satellite-radio service, the Apple streams lack some of satellite radio's more popular content, such as The Howard Stern Show and live NFL and Major League Baseball games.

If you subscribe to the first theory, the SkyDock is toast. The SkyDock and its chunky satellite antenna will only make the iPhone less portable.

SkyDock's chances are far better to those who blame the App Store disappointment on the lack of Stern and coverage of live sporting events. SkyDock serves as an actual satellite receiver, so subscribers will be tuning in to the same content as the drivers with Sirius or XM in their cars.

Of course, consumers have been able to buy portable satellite radios for years. Lugging around a dock with an antenna doesn't seem any more convenient than purchasing a sleek stand-alone receiver. Sirius XM will also probably price a SkyDock connection as a regular subscription, or a more expensive secondary receiver for existing subscribers, than the $3 monthly rate they would pay for simply streaming online through their App Store program.

We can only hope the SkyDock brings more to the table than that. If not, it will be the second time that Sirius XM bulls get all riled up about an Apple tie-in that bears minimal fruit.

Other ways to slice and dice satellite-radio fandom:

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a subscriber to both Sirius and XM. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (21) | Recommend This Article (26)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 11:53 AM, JPS007 wrote:

    This article on MF is characteristicly negative and factually incorrect. The SkyDock actually make the iPhone MORE portable not less. iphone connectivity in a moving car is horrable. The Skydock will provide iPhone users with stable connection. While providing them with exclusive content like sterns, MLB, etc.

    The aticle makes it sound like this device is make is make or break for Sirius XM. That's is a complete falsehood. This is just one small incremental enhancement that will make a small positive impact to the subscriber numbers. There are much bigger things in the works that will drive subs even higher. The next few years will be a boom for Sirius XM.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 12:14 PM, sirisorry wrote:

    You stated, "The SkyDock and its chunky satellite antenna will only make the iPhone less portable." My understanding is that there is no satellite antenna associated with the docking station.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 12:20 PM, tootun wrote:

    You guys never seem to come up with factual information...this article is riddled with incorrect statements based on MF's weird fascination to discredit SIRI. Give it up boys the GAME is over all your Media Buddies are screwed!...Have you checked out the PPS lately it's not based on that piece of equipment. Siri is the next APPLE so Live with it!

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 12:31 PM, DiscoFinance wrote:

    Richard, when are you going to do a story about "Stock Shock"--the movie about Sirius XM? Did you see the article today? Here is the link:

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 12:35 PM, TMFBreakerRick wrote:

    sirisorry, there is a satellite antenna connected to the docking station, at least according to the FCC filing:

    JPS, we can disagree on the definition of "portability" but the article never plays this out to be a "make or break" moment.

    Tootun, I'm human so do tell me the "incorrect statements" that riddle the article. If you are right, they do need to be corrected.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 12:55 PM, RAF22 wrote:

    The reason SIRI is surging on the upside is because institutions are finally realizing that this is a turnaround story of significant proportions and the stock is a "steal" below 1.00. All fundamentals and technicals have improved substantially in recent months, leading to the panicked short covering and legitimate new investment flows that have driven the share price higher. The fundamental outlook remains positive over the longer term time frame, based on the probability that satellite radio installations will grow significantly as the ageing US auto fleet is replaced and upgraded. In addition, new platforms such as the SkyDock are the "icing on the cake" - but not the "cake" itself. Substantial upside potential is indicated for SIRI over the intermediate to longer term and institutions are now taking on positions early in the game.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 1:29 PM, olesage wrote:

    It's actually nice to see someone give a down side to the hype.

    I'm long and loaded on SIRI, and although I don't like the negativity it's just been such a long, frustrating ride with this one. To many disappointments. This article temper my current 'euphoria'.

    The only thing I don't agree with in the article is the negative slant to the iPhone app. The app was introduced two months ago, so how can the impact be seen in so short a time? Plus, I think Mel is playing it down.

    I know that's when I signed up!

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 1:59 PM, jimmylegg wrote:

    OMG, I am so tired is listening to your bull..I have wanted to respond to you posts for years now, however get fed up with your mandatory registration.

    App store disappointment? What the hell are you talking for the company and you might be qualified to speak to it...but you dont!

    And you refer to streaming content, you are so ignorant of the business model! Mel just broke his way through the streaming content NAB crap by by making it a receiver, not online streaming content, it comes from the antenna, not the internet...dumbazz!!

    DAMMMM, I wish there was a way to block content from you.

    Oh and now I try to publish and you have a profanity filter??? WHATAFUCUP!!!!

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 2:05 PM, serial83 wrote:

    What did Barney Frank say the other day? "Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."

    That's how I feel about the SIRI fanatics. You people need to relax.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 2:06 PM, killab73 wrote:

    dear TMF spinners,

    if you take the negativity you have towards SIRI out of your delusional heads, you will understand that it is a dock that instantly allows you to stream XM everything content over any car stereo. the really nice thing is it streams XM content, which means if subs want Stern or NFL, they will pay an extra $4 a month. It doesnt stop there...if you can get XM in the car on your device, there is more of a chance that the subscriber will add the extra $3 a month to stream the online App. Thats an extra $7 a month potential. Revenue, revenue, revenue.

    I'm really confused on how you guys view how a company should operate. If they produce a device that will generate more revenue, and appeal to MILLIONS of people who already have an Iphone or Ipod touch device, is that a bad thing? Really now, i think you FOOLS should stop writing about SIRI. Everything you write is negative; and you often include SIRI in articles about other companies just b/c you know that more people check the SIRI financial section and will see your pethatic write up, instead of checking the financial board that corresponds with the company you are writing the article about.

    the stock is up week over week...does that sting? is that going to ruin your weekend? are you going to lose sleep?

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 2:27 PM, doorcorp wrote:


  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 2:43 PM, SatRadioMan wrote:

    I don't know why there is such animosity here.

    serial83, you are so right, there are too many fanatics here.

    I think it is ridiculous that so many of you investors are so emotional and always wear the rose-colored glasses. Lighten up, it's just a service, jeesh.

    Please. The skydock is a cool accessory, but it isn't a breakthrough. What it will do is allow people who already have a iPod/phone to get a cheaper alternative to getting a satellite receiver. That is all.

    There is nothing here that says millions of new subscribers will pour in. They need to fix the content before worrying about another add-on.

    I personally know dozens of people who left the service because the music/talk channels have drastically gone downhill in the last 2 years, the skydock won't fix that. So unless you are a die-hard Stern fan, there are much better alternatives elsewhere.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 2:59 PM, cantbefoolish wrote:

    As usual, Dick AS5throtle Mindless is trying to talk down SIRI. If he had any balls, he would disclose his holdings of the stock, to show why he is so biased against it.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 3:00 PM, jimmylegg wrote:

    The animosity comes from deplorable, inaccurate, bogus and negligent reporting not being a sirius fanatic. Just write the facts and leave the opinions and conjecture out...It is apparent this guy is wither getting paid by one one the numerous organizations that are competing with SatRad, has lost money on the stock in the past or the simplest explnation, is simply an irresponsible reporter...but then again I guess anyone can have a blog. The serious problem here is that thos that do have a blog arent true journalists, however, everyday americans havent caught onto the change in reporting in our country from trained, educated, intelligent researched, non-bias reporting to just some schmuck with a PRweb is sad, but this is why our country is so great...freedom of speech.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 4:41 PM, mikecart1 wrote:

    Ok I'm blown away. I thought 2 SIRI articles today was ridiculous. But this is #3. Simply wow. Not wow that you made 3 articles today on the same company but that you couldn't somehow combine the 3 ideas about SIRI into 1 article.

    TMF loses again!

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 6:18 PM, YingandYang wrote:

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    Nearly $100 billion in stimulus funds for energy has been authorized for clean energy projects, according to Chu. He said the DOE’s goal is to award 70% of the funds by Labor Day.

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    In Massachusetts, BP and Verenium announced that its 50-50 joint venture company will operate under the name Vercipia Biofuels, and plan to relocate its corporate headquarters to Florida. Vercipia continues to focus on the development of one of the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities, located in Highlands County, Florida.

    The company is also developing a second commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol site in the Gulf Coast region.

    Since announcing the formation of the joint venture company in February, Vercipia has applied for and been selected to move forward with due diligence on a Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Guarantee for the Highlands project, which is now underway. In addition, the team has continued to advance development activity in Florida and on a second site in the Gulf Coast region.

    Digest sources say that Verenium is expected to win one of up to six grants expected to be announced by the DOE within the next 45 days, which according to sources “will crown the early winners in cellulosic ethanol”. Sources says that the DOE has not given guidance on the identity of grant recipients, but noted that Verenium’s early application, partnership with BP, and strong development pathway on its cellulosic ethanol operation makes it an odds-on contender for one of the next round of grants

  • Report this Comment On August 22, 2009, at 10:22 AM, Fredlee009 wrote:

    Hey Rick. Are you biased? Or just a bad researcher. BROKE this story IN APRIL. Thanks for noticing. Yes, APRIL. But you mention 2 sites that are behind on SiriusXM news, and coverage. Go learn something. May be releasing new hardware, LOL OK DUDE. You can just go ahead say they are. Wow, arent we hesistant to commit. Your ghung ho to mention there debt load, and sub loss, but they MAY be releasing new hardware, at a accessory media event. Yes, Id say thats a safe bet, you twit. Yes, they MAY be some. LOL LOL

    I cant believe you get paid to write. Amazing to me.

  • Report this Comment On August 22, 2009, at 10:23 AM, Fredlee009 wrote:

    I meant there may be some, typo. Have a great day Rick.

  • Report this Comment On August 22, 2009, at 4:34 PM, multi007 wrote:

    WOW - SO MUCH HATRED by fellow fool users? ! I tell you what....if you are that angry, UNSUBSCRIBE!

    Doorcorp - you waste time posting on an article that you wish you dont get in your in-box? Have you not heard of the "Unsubscribe" feature? OMG!

    Jimmylegg - let me understand something. You got SO angry that you REGISTERED on fool just to say why you dont register? OMG!

    RE: the antenea - Of course it's going to have a satelite antenea. It MUST. The whole purpose of the Skydock is to pick up the satelite signal and pass it through the iphone/ipod. I dont think it will be using the 3G network. Why would it need to? If XM wanted to use the 3G network - then it would without the need of the Skydock. The Skydock appears to be giving you the full lineup (perhaps minus the sirius plus package which is stern, mlb, martha sterart, oprah).

  • Report this Comment On August 22, 2009, at 10:05 PM, JWILLI44 wrote:

    As far as above post " My car has a radio. Why would I pay (and how much does it cost?) to receive SIRI?" I'm sure you have a tv that came with an antenna...why pay for cable or satelite. I have a tape deck, why would i buy a CD are .stuck in the past, time to try new things..As far as the article stating that the dock will have a "clunky" antenna. I think that is mis-informed or not researched correctly. True to get the satelite signal, you need to have an antenna. The dock will not be for walking around the street and getting satelite. Iphone users will use 3g and ipod touch users will have to depend on wi-fi hotspots or home network. The dock is for the car or the home! This should be obvious. Most "docks" are for car or home and not meant to have you walk with a dock in your pocket. Now, the antenna on your car or for your home is not bulky at all unless you are tying to put it on a bicycle, it fits nicely on the top of the car and is barely noticeable. So, to say it is bulky is wrong if you realize it is for the car or home. Are Dish Network or Direct TV satelites for homes too clunky for a house? wtf? Now, If it is for the car and can charge the ipod/ipod touch while playing music, talk, comedy,etc...How is that less portable? It just gives you more options such as every game from baseball, football, all sports, Howard Stern. Also, since it is not using the 3g network. Your signal will be stronger. Interesting to see if you can listen to satelite through iphone and make a phone call at the same time? Since sirius xm not using cell phone signal. Now, as far as ipod touch portablity; is it possible to get in your car with a ipod touch and listen to Pandora, slacker, etc...Is there a nationwide wi-fi that the ipod touch can hook up to and get a cd quality sound? I don't think so...Now, Sirius xm has no competition for ipod touch as far as non recorded car audio entertainment. I am not a sirius fanatic, but you should report fairly and do more research. This dock will be primarly marketed for those who want superior audio entertainment in their cars. Outside the car, if you have an iphone, this new dock doesnt help. So, teenagers and young people are not the target audience. They tend to just want to hear there playlists. Antenna headphones were available for some sirius xm portables, this could be another new product for ipod/iphone users as well. I doubt it because the battery drain would kill the phone too quick. As far as the sirius xm app being a flop, I would disagree with that. First, it hasnt been out long enought to flop. Second, how much did it cost them to develop an application? I'm sure it already paid for itself from existing subscribers. Third the application allowed the company to advertise nationaly with a top well know brand being apple. The ipod name draws attention to bill boards and newspaper ads. This increased brand recognition so when it is time for the option of trying sirius xm in your new car. you will have some curiosity about what is sirius xm? as does the above post...

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2009, at 6:24 AM, doorcorp wrote:

    Multi, There are only 2 lines in my post. You should be able to read between them if you try real hard.

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