It seems like yesterday.
Satellite radio debuted late in 2001 when XM unveiled more than 100 channels of live radio that consumers could listen to in glorious digital quality from coast to coast. XM's value proposition was unequalled back in those days.
Technology marches on, though. Today's internet radio offers variety as wide and deep as its satellite competition. A couple of companies have even announced technology to bring internet radio into your car.
The fact is, satellite radio has so many competitors - internet radio, HD radio, iPods, iPhones and other MP3 players - that last year the federal government did what they said would never happen: They allowed satellite radio competitors XM and Sirius to merge into a single company.
In fact, technology has played such havoc with the satellite radio business that the newly merged Sirius XM was only a breath away from filing for bankruptcy protection last month.
And the thing that almost bankrupted this industry might very well be its salvation: rich programming.
At the peak of the XM-Sirius rivalry, XM had the exclusive on Major League Baseball, the NHL, Oprah, Martha Stewart and other featured channels. Sirius, meanwhile, had the NFL and Howard Stern as its lead programming cards.
Since XM and Sirius used separate satellite systems to broadcast their content, however, their full slate of programming has never been available on a single radio. Until now.
All that changes with the introduction of the Sirius XM MiRGE radio (available at siriusxm.com for $250). This gadget, with its two signal-decoding chips, receives every channel broadcast by both satellite networks.
As gadgets go, the MiRGE has some impressive features. With hundreds of channels to choose from, the unit's color display lists what's playing on four channels simultaneously. The radio can pause, rewind and replay up to 60 minutes of live broadcasts.
But probably the best selling point is the fact that every game, race or match played in the NFL, MLB, NASCAR, IndyCar, NBA, NHL and PGA is available live on the MiRGE. Thousands of college football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse games are also aired live on this unit.
For some satellite radio fans, this is the gadget they've been waiting for. For others, this might seem like just a lot of yesterday.
Let me know where you stand, and whether or not you care about this new gadget - e-mail me at email@example.com.