Sirius Stiletto Could Change the Game

stiletto.jpgJust announced on the Crutchfield site, the new Sirius Stiletto could be the one that breaks open the floodgates for portable satellite radio. By combining three critical standards – stored songs, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi – this device opens the potential for ubiquity of a level that satellite operators seriously need in light of recent moves in the automotive industry as free trial subscriptions expire and many cars swith to iPod readiness.

What’s to love about the Stiletto? First, there’s over 100 hours of storage of both Sirius content and stored audio, including DRM-protected tracks (no word on SD/XD expansion, though). Second, the satellite signal is supposedly stronger, and available headphones with built-in antenna boost it even more. Third, Bluetooth allows for low-power song sharing between users. Fourth, Wi-Fi compatibility opens up the potential for Internet streaming where satellite signals are weak. Given Sprint/Nextel and other carriers announced plans to deploy WiMax, this is big. Sirius just the other day unveiled a Net-only subscription package, which sits nicely in line with the announced hardware.

It might even be the long dreamed of, prayed for “iPod killer,” hints Wired News. The company that builds the Stiletto for Sirius, Zing, may just have the means and motivation to dethrone the reigning portable player king:

Zing CEO Tim Bucher … spent a couple years as an Apple executive, overseeing development of the Mac Mini and the iPod’s core technology. Those years ended in bitter acrimony in late 2004, when Jobs fired Bucher.

Bucher sued Apple for wrongful termination. According to the suit, Jobs had told Bucher, “People sometimes think you are manic-depressive…. I’m not sure what I am going to do, but I think I am going to have to ask you to leave the company.” The head of Apple’s human resources department apparently told Bucher that he “should talk to a psychologist; I will get someone to help you.”

According to an insider source, Tim Bucher and Steve Jobs still harbor a lot of bitterness toward each other … If the Stiletto and other Zing devices start stealing customers from Apple as it turns its focus to video, Bucher’s revenge against Apple could be quite sweet indeed.

The iTunes Music store is in Zing’s sites as well:

The Stiletto 100 also works with another Zing partner, Yahoo Music Engine, apparently so that users can select a “Buy This Song” option to purchase whatever they’re hearing on a Sirius channel (or download it as part of a subscription).

Stiletto’s entry into the market could really shake things up. It might even make a Sirius subscriber out of me.

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