The future of satellite radio?

Where does satellite radio fit in the grand scheme of things? I’m a new satellite radio owner, and while I enjoy it for what it is, I’m starting to wonder where it is going.

Consider all the ways of getting streamed audio into a moving car:

  • We have the traditional AM and FM bands that provide music and news, but are highly regional. This regionality is good for getting local news and weather, but means changing stations frequently on long trips. Although, with some coordination, a blanket of radio stations could remove the regionality.
  • We have wireless internet via cell phone technologies, which is rapidly becoming fast enough to stream audio, and is regional only on an urban vs. rural basis. Ultimately, there will be a need to have coverage everywhere and this regionality will diminish.
  • Then we have wireless internet via other technologies, already at speeds fast enough to stream audio.
  • Last but not least, we have satellite radio, which will probably offer the best audio quality, but doesn’t offer any chance of interactivity.

Given any of the first 3 built-in to your car, why would you want satellite radio? Right now the only thing that’s missing is an automotive internet radio appliance. Add in some GPS capability, with automatically upgrading maps and traffic reports, and you’d have just about all you’d need. Ok, you could add movies on demand once speeds get high enough.

You could get much of the functionality of On-Star via a two-way internet connection, and lots of functions that would be handy to the driver.

So the more I think about it, satellite isn’t likely to stick around for long given the other possibilities on the horizon.

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