But in the midst of this growth, Sirius/XM has lost something which has gone virtually unnoticed: Portable units.
Maybe these things never sold that well in the first place. I'm talking about the Stiletto 100 and the Stiletto 2. They were, after all, clunky and poorly designed alternatives to mp3 players – satellite radios with iPod-ish capabilities. But what these units did that no other Sirius units do is record not just songs but long segments of programming – it's the only way, for example, to record an entire episode of the Howard Stern Show for on-demand listening later (yes, I know you can jerry-rig your way to this on a laptop with some inexpensive software, but I'm talking about regular people with lives to live here).
The first such unit was released in 2006 (and, as an owner, I can tell you it hasn't aged well). The last came out in 2007 – the same year that gave birth to the iPhone – three iPhones ago now. And neither is currently available through Sirius/XM (although you can find one on Amazon for nearly $500 – a collectible, no doubt. Maybe it's signed by Mel?).
In fact, if you search for portable units, Sirius pushes you to consider an XM unit – which takes you to the still existing XM website and a world of content which is not quite the same as the one you left behind (isn't it about time to settle on one brand experience, Sirius/XM?).
Obviously, Sirius is still in the portable game in one important respect: its smartphone app. But this app costs extra every month, has no recording (or even caching) capability whatsoever, and is completely 100% Howard Stern-free (that's like building a house and forgetting to build a door).
So in an era when the world is moving on-demand, an era when specific content is of greatest value when it can be consumed when and where I want it, a world where NPR programming is growing by leaps and bounds as they explore every possible manifestation of their content across multiple platforms, in that world: Sirius/XM removes this capability altogether.
While Sirius/XM once positioned itself as a technological advancement, nowadays it's advanced in the same way your grandpa is when you buy him a new shirt that looks exactly the same as the fifty shirts he already has.
I'm not arguing Sirius/XM should play in the gadget business – that world is vicious. I'm arguing that Sirius/XM should be providing its content in ways its subscribers prefer to access and use content.
Or risk being replaced by those who do.