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United Airlines Switches to Microsoft Zune Channels

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United Airlines (Nasdaq: UAUA  ) just started to replace Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) with Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Zune channels. The contract with XM [today Sirius XM Radio] ended on May 30, and United Airlines opted against renewing.

With the new player, it's opting for a subtle marketing move. Twenty-one Zune channels should be available on every IFE [in-flight entertainment]-equipped aircraft. For those interested, the 22nd channel will remain unchanged -- United's unique Channel 9 entitled "From the Flight Deck," where you can listen to live communication between the flight deck and air traffic control.

Interestingly, though, the cooperation between Microsoft and United started via Channel 9, because one of Microsoft's executives was afraid of flying and he was told to listen to Channel 9 if he gets "freaked out." It seems that it worked, given that MSDN introduced its own Channel 9 "Inside Microsoft" feature, and now Zune channels will become available on all United flights.

New channels are electronic dance, opera, piano jazz, and soundtracks. As usual, these are prerecorded albums lasting for two hours, just like alleged "live" Sirius XM Satellite Radio, which had nothing to do with satellites. At least not in United planes.

Even though this offer pales in comparison with advanced systems available on Asian carriers such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific or Middle Eastern ones such as Emirates or Etihad, it is at least a small step forward in much-criticized air travel in the United States.

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Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (12)

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  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2010, at 4:24 PM, rofgile wrote:

    That seems to be a bad omen for Sirius XM. A large percentage of subscribers are likely businesses and corporations. And 99% of these could just as easily be getting music from an internet source rather than from a satellite (as they are in urban, non-moving environments). So, unless Sirius XM can have good subscriber rates, good quality music, and keep up that competition - a large base of their subscribers is at risk.


  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2010, at 5:22 PM, Valuestocksonly wrote:

    Sorry Rof, the mass exodus will not occure. The one thing that no one can compete with Sirius is content at a very reasonable rate. Besides Rof, Sirius has internet access already. They are way ahead of the game.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2010, at 5:36 PM, Valuestocksonly wrote:

    Content is KING! Internet does not have it. Besides, Sirius is already internet capable, at a much cheaper price.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2010, at 5:52 PM, awnewhouse wrote:

    this is a no biggie...was strickly a promotional deal for SXM. SXM is more interested in generating revenue as they should...nothing negative about this at all...

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2010, at 9:15 AM, looserstreet wrote:

    Report this Comment On June 07, 2010, at 4:24 PM, rofgile wrote:

    That seems to be a bad omen for Sirius XM. A large percentage of subscribers are likely businesses and corporations


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