XM Satellite Radio For Mac By Year's End, Company Confirms

by , 10:00 AM EDT, May 6th, 2003

The world's largest satellite-radio provider will make its recently-announced personal computer receiver available for the Macintosh by year's end, The Mac Observer has learned. The US$70 XM PC Receiver from XM Satellite Radio presently works only with Windows-based PCs allowing subscribers to listen to 101 digital music, entertainment and news channels, but a company spokesperson has confirmed software designers are working on a Mac version and will release the product by Christmas.

"XM designers are working on a Macintosh solution now," said Chance Patterson, press spokesman for XM Satellite Radio based in Washington, DC. "We're targeting availability for sometime before the end of the year."

Announced last week, the XM PC Receiver doesn't stream audio programming into a PC via the Internet, but rather through a small, desktop satellite receiver and antenna. XM's signal is captured directly from XM's two satellites and terrestrial repeaters so there are no "buffering" delays or slow channel searching and changing, effectively turning a computer into an XM radio.

The unit is powered by a provided USB cable. Much like an XM-equipped car stereo or portable unit, the PC-equipped model will include software which  displays on-screen channel and programming information. The satellite receiver must have a view to the southern sky under ideal conditions to receive programming.

At present, the PC Receiver is sold through XM's Web site, or exclusively from online retailer PC Connection. It is not known what additional retailers will sell the Mac version when it becomes available later this year. The monthly subscription fee for programming is US$9.95. The service is only available to those living in the continental US.

XM has been working to grow its market base in the past year with the addition of new receivers, and acceptance by more automobile manufacturers who are including it in new car models. Analysts see the addition of the PC product as another attempt to grow its market to those working from home or office who want to listen to digital-quality music or news. Earlier this month, XM said it had 500,000 subscribers and was on track for one million subscribers by the end of this year. XM's biggest competitor, Sirius, has about 30,000 subscribers, but believes it will have more than a quarter million by year's end.

Sirius does not offer a similar PC receiver like XM, but does offer subscribers  - including Mac users - the ability to listen to its 60 channels via Windows Media Player, but in a much lower audio quality experience than that of the XM PC Receiver.