I'm a big fan of satellite radio and was a subscriber to XM radio for three years before switching to Sirius about a year ago. Back in December 2004, I wrote that Apple was in talks with Sirius to discuss an iPod with a built-in satellite radio receiver. The "SatPod" would be able to receive satellite radio broadcasts from either XM or Sirius (ideally both) and even record the content to the iPod hard drive. Sources told me back then that about such a device. The thinking was that Sirius needed develop a portable satellite radio receiver to compete with the MyFi from Delphi (which is powered by XM Satellite Radio.)
The US$349 handheld device can download and store up to five hours of XM content onto the device's flash memory. MyFi lets you record while you listen or schedule it to record your favorite XM shows - even when the unit is not in use.
Almost two years later Apple has filed for a patent which hints that a satellite radio accessory for the iPod may become a reality. Orbitcast, a satellite radio news site, has published a story about a new patent application that Apple has filed for "a method of saving media from various sources for later purchase. It's an ingenious method of grabbing snippets of audio, identifying the song and allowing the user the option to purchase that song." The patent itself appears to be for the how the iPod "discovers" music sources:
With this technology, the user can tune "into a wireless signal (e.g., AM FM radio, digital radio, or WiFi)" using either a wireless card or "the capability to accept accessories to add the necessary functionality." ... Still, the relationship with satellite radio is vague... at this point. As we read the patent application further though, it begins to clear up as Apple specifically states that the wireless signal could be "AM/FM radio, satellite radio, WiFi."
The patent indicates that a satellite radio receiver would be an iPod accessory and not built-into the iPod itself. The author elaborates that "SDARS capability would add too much bulk for Apple to ever consider it to be acceptable." On Wednesday Sirius stock moved higher after a report from Briefing.com that mentioned "chatter of a potential strategic partnership" between Apple and Sirius. Sirius just began shipping their Stiletto 100 (US$349), the company's first self-contained portable satellite radio receiver. It looks like the Stiletto could be a precursor to more portable receivers to come.