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Technologies on the Horizon: Segway and Satellite Radio

A couple of technologies that have large potential audiences, but uncertain immediate-term futures debuted recently. The hype surrounding Segway reached epic proportions before it was finally demonstrated on Good Morning America. Dave Winer of Scripting News was invited to a preview of the personal transportation device and described the experience of actually using one for 10 minutes.

Over on the Saltire weblog, Steve McLaughlin has done some investigative research on satellite radio broadcast services operated by XM and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Read on for more information....

In both cases, these technologies seem to be in search of a killer application. It's hard to imagine how the Segway device will compete with the many personal mobility alternatives, but we all have a tendency to think in terms of the applications for which we use personal transportation today. Perhaps there are other latent transportation applications that will become obvious once Segway devices become available. Does it sound like it's hard to assert this notion with a straight face?

The satellite radio services have more obvious applications, but to a seemingly small portion of the radio listener market. XM Radio has struck a number of relationships with cable channels and radio syndicators that has resulted in preemption-free programming. This is important to people who like to listen to syndicated talk programs like CarTalk or MoneyTalk.

From our perspective, there are only a few diehards who are committed enough to syndicated programs to pay $10 per month for a satellite radio service in order to listen wherever they are. Furthermore, some syndicators are already creating subscription streaming media sites (biggest example: Rush Limbaugh) and these sites offer more functionality than satellite radio. Having said all of this, satellite radio could take off if someone with a loyal following like Imus or Howard Stern created a channel and endorsed the medium.

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