XM tunes in portable satellite radio

Delphi rolls out cartable device MyFi

If the iPod and TiVo got together and had a kid, the result would be MyFi — a portable music device that might just be satellite radio’s killer app.

Since radio first started streaming from the heavens three years ago, one of the medium’s biggest drawbacks has been its lack of true portability. Unlike regular radio, even the simplest satellite radio systems required separate receiver and antenna units to work.

That changed last month when Delphi rolled out MyFi, a $350 wireless Walkmanlike device that lets XM subscribers listen to the service virtually anywhere. What’s more, the device — currently being hyped in a series of TV spots starring Elton John — has the TiVolike ability to digitally record up to 5 hours of music or talkshows.

Chance Patterson, a VP at XM, expects MyFi and other similar products to greatly expand the potential audience base for satellite radio.

“People want to have as much flexibility as possible,” he says. “In the same way plug-and-play really expanded the market, we expect the same thing from these portable products. It’s going to be a giant part of our retail base.”

XM already is looking to unveil several other portable devices “sooner rather than later,” Patterson says. “We expect to be a part of cell phones and other musical products,” perhaps even MP3 players or a future generation of the iPod, he adds.

Rival Sirius also is expected to enter the portable market next year, though it hasn’t announced any firm product launches yet.

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