The league leader in satellite radio has arrived on the iPhone, but it looks like its MVP missed the bus.
For $12.99 a month (after a free 7-day trial) you can listen to pretty much the same stuff available on home and in-car satellite radio receivers on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Celebrity shock jock Howard Stern's two channels are among the "select programming" that are not available to users of the app, as are NFL, MLB, and NASCAR live feeds. From Sirius's iPhone FAQ:
SIRIUS & XM offer all of the channels for which we have mobile performance rights. For that reason, certain channels which may be available on your satellite radio or online radio service may not be available on a mobile device like the iPhone.
That still leaves 120 channels of commercial-free radio – nothing to shake a stick at. But what are the alternatives to paying three lattes a month (or $2.99 if you're already a subscriber) for Sirius/XM's iPhone service?
Cars.com's Kicking Tires blog took a look at the others in the radio-replacement app field, and there are some formidable contenders, including Pandora, Last FM, Slacker, and iMeem [links open iTunes] – all free to download and with no monthly fees. Of those, the site gives Slacker and iMeem props for usability and versatility.
Response to the omission of Stern's channels hasn't been pretty. Sirius Buzz blogger Tyler Savery calls it a bum move for the company. "Sirius XM Radio has squandered a wonderful opportunity by excluding the very content that people are clamoring for," he writes. "There are already over 200 people who have rated the app with only one star. Overall the app is rated as a two star app. By contrast, Slacker, and Pandora enjoy near perfect consumer ratings on iTunes."
And, returning to sports, Rick Aristotle Munarriz of The Motley Fool puts it in perspective: "Sirius without Stern is like the Los Angeles Lakers without Kobe Bryant. It's still entertaining and somewhat competitive, but not something that millions of fans will pay a premium to experience."
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