I sure hope XM and Sirius don’t merge, as a consumer I can see only one outcome of a merger and that’s higher prices for something that is already pretty expensive considering it’s replacing something that is free.
The quote from the article, clipped below, about not being able to tell the differences between the two services reflects a marketing perspective rather than an actual customer one.
â€œFor the subscriber, it all comes down to which one of the two is closer to the cash register. Customers cannot tell the difference between the two services,â€
I’ve had two vehicles with XM and my home theatre setup includes a Polk XRt12 XM tuner, and the two vehicles that I currently have are both Sirius equipped. In short, I’m probably about as qualified as anyone could be to tell you the differences between XM and Sirius.
XM’s programming selection for popular music is pretty lame compared to what Sirius offers. Both services have the full range of cable news channels, and interestingly enough dub the advertising spots (music channels are commercial free, the cable news channels have advertising that slots in when the programming breaks for the television spots) with their own which are obviously targeted to long haul truckers (recruiting ads, products for truckers, etc.). There are also spots for credit card debt relief that run in heavy rotation. One criticism I have about Sirius’ music channels is that they seem intent on positioning “personalities” in addition to the music, and it gets kind of annoying because if I wanted to hear people prattle on about mindless crap I would probably stick with plain ‘ol radio. XM just gives you the music and skips the other stuff.
One feature enhancement I would love to have is the ability to build my own channel from podcast feeds.
While Sirius gets the edge for programming, XM definitely has a better technology. I’m not an expert on the individual network technology but I think XM uses a heavier dose of terrestrial base station amplification on their signal because the signal strength that XM features is definitely better than Sirius, at least in the Bay Area. I will regularly lose my Sirius signal for short periods of time when driving in the hills or through an area with a lot of trees, and in bad weather the Sirius signal is prone to cutting out. It’s kind of annoying after a while but even under the worst of conditions it is light years ahead of plain old broadcast radio.
Insofar as the hardware offerings are concerned, Sirius’ portable receivers are really slick, especially the Stiletto (great name as well). As I mentioned, I have a Polk XM receiver and it is very well done but the fact is that I’m not interested in maintaining two service arrangements so I’ll probably sell it on Ebay (I want to get a Sonos system first) and get a Sirius home receiver so I can consolidate the service charges (and Sirius’ programming is better). I think a point that is often overlooked by analysts on either of these companies is that once you get satellite radio you end up getting more of it because it becomes a true must have, I really would not consider another car without either service again.