I thought I was only dreaming out loud last week.
"A company that looks after 17.3 million on-the-go subscribers with the disposable income to pay for satellite radio provides a juicy target audience for any handset maker," I wrote on Friday, highlighting the opportunities for a post-merger XM (Nasdaq: XMSR ) and Sirius (Nasdaq: SIRI ) . "Now that Sirius-XM will have two brands, it can conceivably strike two deals. Would you like a Sirius iPhone, or is an XM BlackBerry more to your liking?"
I guess the XM BlackBerry is now more than wishful thinking. XM is teaming up with QuickPlay Media to offer a sliver of its programming through Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) iconic BlackBerry devices.
The service isn't perfect. BlackBerry jockeys pay $7.99 a month for Web-streamed access to just 20 of XM's 170 channels. That's in the ballpark of the yawn-inducing mobile deals XM previously struck with Alltel (NYSE: AT ) and AT&T (NYSE: T ) . I guess XM is growing this business alphabetically, rather than exponentially.
Don't get me wrong. Twenty crisp comedy and commercial-free music channels are better than none at all. The BlackBerry deal also brings XM's popular The Virus channel -- home of Opie & Anthony and my satellite-radio faves Ron & Fez -- into the mix. The Alltel and AT&T deals are strictly music-driven.
However, there's a reason you don't see XM shouting its Alltel and AT&T subscriber numbers from its satellite-beaming rooftops. Those services really aren't that great of a deal.
Existing XM subscribers can get a complete second subscription for just $6.99 a month, with receivers practically given away. Why pay more for less? And maybe I'm misreading my BlackBerry-pecking friends, but this isn't exactly the dream target audience for a premium audio-streaming service.
I guess I won't be satisfied until someone wedges an actual satellite radio receiver into an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone. That's what I'm waiting for -- not just the ability to hear all of XM's 170 channels, but also the ability to take advantage of premium features like XM's NavTraffic road routing and Sirius' video streaming.
I realize that this may be too bulky an appliance by today's standards, but that will change over time. Heck, I'll even settle for a phone company -- any handset maker -- to go the other way, and wedge a cell phone into one of the existing XM and Sirius portable systems.
Until we get to that point, these wireless deals may make for flashy headlines, but they're just not ready to move the needle.
For more Folly: