While the Consumer Electronics Show is probably a bit subdued this year because of the uncertain U.S. economy, at least one new product is worth mentioning. There’s a good chance you’ll have something like it in your next car.
Blaupunkt and online Internet radio portal miRoamer have teamed up to offer an in-dash Internet car radio. This is the type of product that I predicted two years ago would be the death of Sirius/XM.
The radio offers FM, AM, and Internet radio stations, and listeners can customize their Internet radio settings, including presets and favorites, at miRoamer.com. While a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone is required, there is no fee for the miRoamer service. If you’re already paying your cell phone provider for a data plan, why spend on a subscription for satellite radio service?
The Blaupunkt radios should be out in the second half of 2009 and the company claims that it will be an original-equipment option for an as-yet undisclosed automaker.
Now, this is closer to where we’ll be but it’s not quite there. When the Internet radio functions are contained within the radio itself, instead of requiring external equipment (a cell phone with a data plan), then we’ll hit the tipping point.
In other words, until my mom can find her station without setting up favorites at a website and plugging in a separate device in her car, it’s too complicated for most people who just want some pleasant noise or interesting talk while they’re driving.
On the other hand, it may siphon off enough satellite radio subscribers to drive the final spike through the heart of Sirius/XM, which is already on the ropes in spite of the merger.