The Wall Street Journal reports on the upcoming launch of an iPhone application from satellite radio provider Sirius XM, which is reportedly due "in the next few weeks." While details of how Sirius XM service will be deployed on the iPhone are not yet known, it is assumed that a subscription fee will be required in order to access the music channels.

The iPhone application likely will require purchasing a subscription, although Sirius XM has announced few details of how the plan will work. An estimated seven million people in the U.S. have iPhones, estimates Richard Klugman, an analyst at Majestic Research. Exposure for the Sirius service on the iTunes Store site of Apple Inc. could draw valuable attention from the gadget-loving crowd that flocks to the site.

The article places the upcoming iPhone application release within the context of Sirius XM's larger market and describes how the landscape has changed for satellite radio as the iPod and iPhone have changed the way people listen to music.

In releasing the new application, which will allow customers to stream satellite radio over their iPhones, Sirius XM appears to be tacitly conceding that the satellite-delivery system that once was cutting edge now has competition far beyond what its founders imagined. Sirius must prove it can hold its own in a world where cars have iPod jacks and phones can go online, allowing people to stream free music stations. And cars, where many people do most of their radio listening, are expected increasingly to have built-in Internet access.

While satellite radio has gained popularity, particularly with the increased adoption of satellite radio-ready stereos in new automobiles, the challenges of running a profitable satellite radio service led to the merger of Sirius and XM last year and have driven Sirius XM to find new ways to add subscribers and reduce churn, something the new iPhone application appears designed to address.

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