The Satellite iPod Returns (Apple Patent)
Tags: 2, XM
Perhaps this explains yesterday's rumor - today Apple filed for a patent application (PDF) 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.
This patent is to date the most solid information yet that Apple actually might be considering integration with satellite radio. This is not an exclusive relationship with satrad, but rather a method for Apple to get around the "discovery" roadblock that is inherently wrong with the iPod.
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." This makes sense - in my opinion the only way Apple will have satellite radio integration would be through an accessories, and not built-in to the iPod. SDARS capability would add too much bulk for Apple to ever consider it to be acceptable.
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."
And further on, Apple discusses vehicle integration, and actually names XM as a possible source - this is the interesting part folks:
"The in-vehicle receiver-player 708 also couples to the in-vehicle network 710. In addition, the portable media device 702 can couple to the in-vehicle network 710. As a result, the portable media device 702 can communicate with the in-vehicle receiver-player 708 via the in-vehicle network 710. In one embodiment, the in-vehicle network 710 has a connection port that is able to receive the portable media device 702 either directly or indirectly via a cable. As an example, the portable media player can be a digital media player.
 When the portable media device 702 is connected to the in-vehicle network 710, the portable media device 702 has access to media information that is descriptive the media being played by the vehicle media system 704. For example, if the in-vehicle receiver-player 708 is playing audio content that is received from a radio frequency broadcast (e.g., AM, FM or XM), the portable media device 702 is able to determine descriptive media information associated with the audio content being played. The descriptive media information can vary with implementation or situation. In one implementation or situation, the descriptive media information includes a title, artist and/or album name for the audio content."
It's the in-vehicle integration where satellite radio has a strong point. Apple needs better vehicle integration, and they need a seamless method for the iPod to "discover" music while in the car. Satellite radio provides a method of not only supplying the actual audio for the iPod to "consume" - but also the associated metadata is already encoded in - making it easier to identify the song and give a purchase option.
Now that's interesting.