‘Sirius’-ly Off The Mark

I normally don’t talk about apps and other toys that we all play with on a daily basis, but I couldn’t resist not talking about Sirius XM’s recently released iPhone app. The anticipated release of their app has certainly dissipated as iPhoners and subscribers are realizing that though it’s a free app, there is an additional $3/month fee to access their ‘premium’ online radio content.

Wait, what?

For those, like myself, who already subscribe to their service, we’re scratching our heads as to why Sirius XM is actually making customers who want to use the iPhone app pay an additional fee on top of their monthly costs. In my eyes, they totally missed the mark – not only with their pricing strategy but also in respect to their customers. Don’t take my word for it, take a look at the 2-stars given by 35,752 ratings and some of the 3,936 customer reviews:


I went through a good amount of the reviews and a hefty majority share the above users’ sentiments about the app. Customers are lashing out at the company, labeling them as greedy and threatening to cancel their service, while a couple users above have done so already.

Look, I understand that they want to monetize their app and service, as they’ve had a rocky road since the Sirius/XM merger, but why not charge for the app itself. Their customers would be much more open to that then an additional monthly charge tacked on.

Sirius XM could have taken advantage of the opportunity to reach out to their community of subscribers and ask them what they would want and expect from an iPhone radio app. But instead, they’ve alienated many of them and probably sent their iPhones sticking to radio app competitors, Pandora and Last.fm.

I’m curious as to how many customers have bought the additional ‘premium’ service to use the app, but I’m more concerned as to whether Sirius XM is listening to the community’s voice and if any action is going to be taken at a seemingly failed attempt in the iPhone app market.

What’s your take? Am I being too harsh on them or are we, as their customers, right in feeling slighted by having to pay more? I want to hear your side.

8 comments On ‘Sirius’-ly Off The Mark

  • The first day this app was released it quickly received bad ratings and reviews…mostly due to the content that was missing.

    As a subscriber, I also pay the monthly fee to have my car receiver work but I also pay an “premium fee” to get internet access so that I can listen while at work. This new “premium internet” fee was added in March as everyone was forced to pick a new subscription plan. Previously if you were a subscriber, with your account you could go online and stream the stations through your computer, this is now only possible with a “premium internet” service charge.

    Sirius/XM could have released an app at a cost but then Apple would receive a percentage of each buy. We can only assume that Sirius/XM made a poor decision and thought people would download the app for free, get a taste of their content and say “I need this and will pay $3 to continue to stream satellite radio!!” Unfortunately they were wrong.

    A: There’s already music available for free on the iPhone.
    B: If you are already a subscriber and have a “premium internet” account you cannot access the same stations on your iPhone as in your car or via the computer.
    C: Even if you never heard a station on Sirius/XM you may know the name, Howard Stern…he’s not available via the iPhone app.

    I enjoy Sirius/XM but they really dropped the ball on releasing an iPhone app. Even if they released their app at a cost they would still have problems with the fact that they cannot stream the same content over radio, computer and phone due to rights issues.

    Love him or hate him, Howard Stern changed radio, no Howard on the iPhone makes the app worthless. Once Howard’s contract is up, who knows how long Sirus/XM will last.

  • @Gabe – You make some good additional points. Not only do they not have Howard Stern available, due to ‘contractual rights’, NFL, MLB, and Nascar stations are also not on the iPhone app. Those are big hits to something they claim to be ‘premium’ content.

    Wonder if they stranglehold on the satellite radio market is having an adverse effect on them now and the flexibility they have.

    Thanks for dropping by, Gabe!

  • I can’t imagine why I’d pay for Sirius when I could stream my lovely Pandora stations onto my iPhone for free!

  • @Sonny The sports stations along with Stern missing from the app are definitely a huge hit. It’s possible that they only covered themselves(licensing contract-wise) for distributing content via their hardware and for online streaming via a personal computer never thinking about streaming via a mobile communication device, as Sirius has it’s own portable radios.

    I was really excited about the iPhone app, but disappointed that some stations are missing. $2.99 for current subscribers and all you get is watered down content…if you’re not a subscriber the app cost is $12.95 after the free trial! It’s sad because I really enjoy the service.

    @sarah I think alot of people will be sticking to free music on their iPhones!

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  • amazing how $3 can ignite a firestorm. this kind of stuff is beginning to feel like car dealers’ bait and switch. if sirius for one second put themselves in their customer’s shoes, they wouldn’t have charged the fee. i wonder what percentage of folks didn’t mind paying it. nice post.

  • It is a risk that Sirius XM should not have taken. Some simple benchmarking would have guided them in the right direction perhaps uncovering the success of Kindle for iPhone, and away we go!

    I would fire the person who made the choice to charge for the product and I would fire the person who has not fixed it by now.

    Thanks Sonny enjoyed the article 🙂 like your style of writing.


  • This application should be free for lifetime subscription people. This is a slap in the face to those people. “Yes, you have a LIFETIME subscription that you paid a HUGE sum for but only under these conditions”. I would want to use that subscription anywhere I damn well please.

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