Standard equipment. That’s XM radio on 2008 Hummer, Buick and Saab vehicles. They join the new 2008 Malibu and a large number of other GM vehicles including XM as part of the base vehicle. GM first include XM radio on the Cadillac line, introducing it on select models in 2001.

"XM Satellite Radio has been one of the most successful entertainment offerings ever launched by General Motors," said Rick Lee, General Motors executive director. "The XM service has broad appeal, with a growing number of our customers asking for the service in their new car or truck. In the 2008 model year, General Motors will build more than 2.5 million vehicles with XM."

But “standard” doesn’t mean what it used to mean, at least not when it’s GM using the term.

The “standard” XM radio is merely a 3 month subscription included with the price of the car. The company also offers a trial subscription when a used GM car is purchased through their certified used car program at a GM dealer.

This continues a strategy GM started with OnStar, which it has included in virtually every car the company has sold for over five years, but which is a subscription only product that must be renewed after the initial one year subscription included in the purchase. GM has experienced a very low rate of renewal for OnStar, and has been desperately seeking any way to make the product more appealing to it’s customers – other, that is, than lowering the renewal price.

Much like OnStar, satellite radio has been overtaken by technology even before it could get established. Just as OnStar was eclipsed by portable navigation systems such as Tom-Tom, satellite radio has been eclipsed by the iPod. XM is in the process of merging with the only other satellite radio network Sirius. In responding to government complaints that the merger would form a monopoly, the satellite companies have specifically cited MP3 and iPod players as competition.

The inclusion of XM radio as a standard feature in GM vehicle is, regrettably, a symbol of the behind-the-times thinking at that company that makes it doubtful they’ll ever equal their foreign competition. As BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz vie to be the first to put iPhone capabilities into their cars as standard equipment, many carmakers, including Toyota, already offer iPod jacks as standard. But, GM is still in retro-think, stuck in the days of yesteryear – which, in the case of modern technology, can be as recently as last year. They have shown a singular failure to be able to adapt to the rapid changes in consumer tastes.


Source: TheAutoChannel

Ralph Kalal
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