The saying "All good things come to those who wait" must have come about with the meteoric rise of XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) in mind. America's No. 1 satellite radio service has been adding customers as fast as McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) churns out those salt-laden french fries, but acquiring these subscribers has not come without a price.

XM and fellow satellite provider Sirius Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) have been trying to bang heads with traditional, static-sounding radio stations that have been around since... well, since the radio was invented in 1879 and later perfected when the first radio station was launched in 1922. Such a music and entertainment stronghold is hard to overturn, but technology has a way of nudging us forward and leading us to bigger and better things.

XM, the leading satellite radio provider, has been so busy lately that you need a scorecard and a sharp pencil just to keep track of the various players. It recently signed an exclusive multiyear contract with Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), as reported by Steven Mallas; added new content including college sports and public radio newsman Bob Edwards; and hired controversial shock jocks Opie and Anthony after Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) Infinity Broadcasting did not send "The King of all Media," Howard Stern, packing.

To say that XM is not taking the conventional route to add subscribers would be an understatement. More than 50% of the company's 418,449 new subscribers in the second quarter came from the new car market. Companies such as General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Honda (NYSE:HMC) are already equipping new cars with XM, with Toyota and Porsche also joining in with dealer-installed options. For the 2005 model year, the company's satellite radio will be offered in more than 100 vehicles; in more than 75 of those, the radio will be factory-installed.

Looking ahead, the company has upped its projection for 2004 year-end subscriber numbers to 3.1 million from 2.8 million as a result of tremendous demand in both the new-car and retail markets. Perhaps the most interesting comparison in the company's second-quarter results was XM's 37% improvement in the cost per gross subscriber addition, which was $160 last year and is now $101. Yes, the company is still losing money at the bottom line (an $0.84 per-share loss in the second quarter vs. a $1.38 loss a year ago), but it is definitely becoming much more cost-efficient. The company deserves further consideration, in my opinion, based on its superior product strategy, attractive long-term growth prospects, and improving financial results.

Want to check out our duel on XM and Sirius, with two writers battling it out over the upstarts?

Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.