FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Delphi MyFi: Great Idea, So-So Execution

Satellite radio (dominated by the XM and Sirius networks) is catching on, in part because receivers are becoming less expensive, but also because audiences are discovering the benefits of commercial-free, censorship-free "narrowcasting" that allows programmers to appeal to niche audiences. Now, the market has taken yet another step forward with the introduction of the Delphi MyFi, the first portable satellite radio receiver.

Early adopters who have purchased the MyFi agree that the idea of a personal, iPod-like receiver is a great one, and may be the "killer app" that drives growth in the nascent industry. However, the MyFi does not appear to be that killer app. Users have complained that MyFi is expensive (about $350), large, heavy, hard to use, and gets poor reception. However, users appreciate many of its features, especially a removable battery, on-screen alerts, a remote control, and -- perhaps best of all -- a built-in recorder.

It may be premature to compare MyFi with the Apple Newton, the bulky, finnicky PDA that pioneered the market in the early '90s, and that was eclipsed by the superior Palm Pilot several years later. But it's tempting. Perhaps the true killer app will be a combination MP3 player and satellite FM receiver, elegant in design, size and functionality. In the best of all possible worlds, the killer receiver will be compatible with both XM and Sirius broadcasting (the MyFi works only with XM).

UPDATE: Engadget reports that talks between Apple and Sirius satellite radio have fallen through, and that, contrary to rumor, Apple has no plans to add Sirius or any other satellite radio capability to iPods anytime soon.

Source: The New York Times