Sunday, January 14, 2007

iPhone - The Howard Stern Show Delivery Device

Yep, you read the title. I want to be the first person to announce: THE IPHONE WILL CARRY SIRIUS AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOWARD STERN.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Howard, Mel (and Super Agent Don) have been well aware of the potential and future of podcasting and the iPod. And they've also known from the start that it is not a competitor to satelite radio. Moreover, they know all about the iPhone and have for at least a year.

Howard's "geeze, Mr. Wizard, I might be dumb, but I don't get the iPhone" riff on his show after Apple's announcement, didn't fool me for one second.

Because the iPhone will carry Sirius.

Why didn't Howard announce that rather than play dumb? In part, because he doesn't want to hurt current sales of Sirius hardware once people find out the Holy Grail of a Sirius enabled iPod is finally coming.

Why bother to buy a clunky Stilleto now when you know your sleek new iPhone will do the same job if you just hold out a few months until it is released? (Supposedly in June, but I suspect Apple will get them out there sooner.)

Now before Taylor, my good friend at TSS Radio, panics and says "Mary! Again with the bitching about the Stilleto! It's one of my best sellers! What are you trying to do to me?" Let me say that because the iPhone will be Sirius compatable does not mean that you should stop buying Sirius hardware and wait for the iPhone. Because, if you read my last post, we will find that once again, we are talking about Apples and Oranges. In fact, once I realized that the iPhone will have Howard availible, I've fallen in love with my Stilleto because is is simply brilliant what Sirius (and Howard) were up to with it.

As I mentioned in my Dec. 10, 2006 post "A Disappointing Christmas," I was hugely disappointed with the Stilleto given all the build up for it. In particular, the headphones were a disaster (though you can easily replace them with any you want) and the idea that you can receive Sirius while running or walking (outside of your car) is far from perfectly realized.

Where the Stilleto, like all Sirius hardware, shines is in the car. I already have an S50 in my Infinity and so I got a car mount for my girlfriends truck and she's thrilled with the Stilleto over her old Starmate.

Why pay the extra bucks for a Stilleto just to put it in a car mount? Because you can pop it out of the car mount and use it for other things. You can buy a home listening unit (which I haven't because I still use my S50) but more importantly… you can use it to listen to Howard live on the internet.

Let me repeat this. The Stilleto allows you to listen to Howard live on the internet, off your home connection, with any headphones you like. And it does this beautifully.

What does this have to do with the iPhone? Everything.

Because one of the key features of the iPhone, one that Howard glossed over when he talked about the iPhone at length, was that the iPhone has full, complete, total access to the internet.

So how do I know the iPhone will have Sirius? Because Sirius is already availible on the internet. And the iPhone has internet access. So guess what? Sirius will be availble for the iPhone.

Now here's another clue. On there is an ad for a new Howard Stern Media Player. Cool. But guess what, it isn't Mac compatible. To quote the question and answer:

"Can I use the player with my Mac?

At the current time the new Howard Stern Media Player does not support the Mac OS. However, we are working diligently to complete a Mac version."

Why not have a Mac version availible now? Well, obviously there are more Windows users, so it would make sense to focus on serving them first. So maybe that's it. But it could also be that they know what is coming with the iPhone, which also contains a full Mac OS, and they want to make sure it works with both Apple computers and their new phone.

My guess, is that Howard and Mel and Sirius are working very closely with Apple on all of this. When Howard was negociating with Apple about adding Sirius to the iPod they told him about the iPhone and advised he wait for it. Howard rewarded them with nice mentions of how great Apple products were for listening and viewing porn and a strong bond was formed.

Which gets back to the Stilleto. The Stilleto sucks at being a portable device to listen to Sirius live outdoors. It thrives at listening to Sirius over the internet. Hmm…

My guess is that the Stilleto was an expensive beta test for the new iPhone. And it got it right. All the iPhone now needs to listen to Sirius live over the internet, as seemlessly and neatly as the Stilleto is a simple piece of software. It might be built into the iPhone, or offered as a small downloadable software internet widget (which is a key feature the iPhone and Mac OS). Sirius has all the technology and streaming equipment in place. The little software widget to access it is something a smart high schooler could program.

So why didn't Apple announce that the new iPhone would carry Howard? For the same reason they don't adverstise the fact that iPods are great for porn. Better to let Howard do that on his own. (Or quietly for them.)

Okay, so the iPhone will carry Sirius off the internet. Why bother to buy a Stiletto now, given the fact that us Howard fans have been used as beta testers and shelled out a lot of money for the honor?

Well, because currently you can get a Stiletto for $299.99 (less at TSS Radio) and listen to Howard off the internet via your home connection. The new iPhone is going to cost $499. Either way you're going to need a subscription, but I'm willing to guess, that your $12.99 subscription for your Stiletto will also allow you to listen to Howard on the iPhone on the internet for free.

Once you leave your home, you will be charged by Cingular for every minute you listen to Howard on you iPhone off of their cell phone lines. If you plug your Stilleto into your car, you listen to Howard for free (if you have a subscription).

I suspect, at least at first, the widget in the iPhone will not allow you to download or timeshift, like you can with your Stiletto. (Of course, by then I hope you will be able to download a podcast of the Reilly Martin show off iTunes.)

So let's imagine a normal day for a Howard Stern fan. You've got your Stiletto plugged into your home unit, and it's recording shows for you over night. As you wake up, you plug in your iPhone and listen to Howard live as you make breakfast over your home internet connection. You unplug your Stiletto, pop your iPhone into your pocket and plug the Stilleto into your car mount. You drive to the gym. Now you could use the iPhone to listen to Howard live, but there aren't any car mounts to do that yet, and you'd have to pay Cingular by the minute for the service. $12.99 a month for Sirius and the Stiletto is a lot cheaper especially since the subscription also your cool new iPhone. When you drive into the large parking lot structure, you lose your Sirius signal. No, problem, hit a button and you can listen to Howard pre-recorded from your home unit on yor Stiletto.

Once you're in the gym, you pop in your headphones, take out your iPhone and listen to Howard over the internet. Now, you could use the Stilleto to do that, but the iPhone is lighter and easier and also has phone features in case you get a call. But your Stiletto works so much better in your car. So for a few hundred bucks you have a great car and home radio. For 500 bucks you have a great internet cell phone. And for $12.99 a month you have a subscription for Howard to both. For half that, you're girlfriend gets one too.

Welcome to the future.

Mary DeSade


Rene Hasprunar said...

My Iphone dosent get Howard? Thanks a lot for your article!

Mark said...

You can actually listen to Howard on your iPhone with the Pocket Tunes Radio application. Here is how: