Panbo

XM & Sirius, what's up?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 17, 2009
Lowrance_HDS_Sirius_cPanbo.jpg

Either XM or Sirius Weather and Audio is now available on nearly all major MFD brands. Above is Sirius seen on the new Lowrance HDS during the Broadband Radar demos. The implementation looked very good (as did the whole HDS package, more on that soon), but in truth all the satellite weather implementations seem to be getting better. I spoke with both XM and Sirius representatives at the Boat Show and their message was that they really are working together now--they are just two divisions of the same company--and that they weren't too worried about the wild battle of the media moguls that had put their company high on the business news page...

Well, late last night a "white knight" saved Sirius XM from bankruptcy and a possible takeover, and it happens that the knight might be particularly white in terms of marine services. That is to say that John Malone is well known here in Maine as a guy who puts serious TLC into classics like Ragtime. Actually, no insiders thought that even bankruptcy would have effected Sirius and XM services. The satellites are up, millions of subscribers in place, and no one in their right mind wants to mess with that. In fact, the twin brands are trying to make their services more irresistible.
   For instance, some time in March XM's Fisherman and Sailor data packages, each $29.99, will become simply the Pilot service, same price but including all data currently available in both previous offerings. Nice!  Also worth noting is that Baron Services, the weather experts behind XM Weather and also WxWorx, expanded their facilities last year, as indicated below and explained here. Baron also developed XM NavWeather, a sort of simplified live data analysis being offered to car drivers and inland boaters. Sirius too has a lower cost inland package, and the Sirius guy told me that the "competing" data packages would get as similar as possible given long term contracts with different data providers. His line: XM and Sirius are the same company offering good live weather on many marine MFD brands, and the only issue for consumers is how well those brands present the info.

Barons_XM_Ops_Center.jpg

Comments

How timely! I was just thinking about this a few hours ago (prompted by the news today) and even took the step to look up the exhibitors list for Miami to see if both weather services had booths (they do).

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at February 17, 2009 8:16 PM | Reply

What about satellite weather data for the Southern Caribbean and Central America? How about Europe?

Posted by: Sandy at February 18, 2009 10:24 AM | Reply

For Central America & Europe, ... there is a product called ClearPoint Weather that might interest you.

You can get weather information using a satalite download and a PC.

http://www.clearpointweather.com/

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at February 18, 2009 12:08 PM | Reply

The Sirius and XM satellite radio footprints don't cover Europe. Worldspace used to, but didn't offer a compatible weather service, and in any case Worldspace UK went bust at the end of last year, pulling the plug oin European coverage.

This leaves the various PC based packages like Clearpoint, our own SmartMet, UGrib etc.

Posted by: Tim Thornton at February 18, 2009 12:34 PM | Reply

Yes, we want a compatible weather service in Europe too ! We don't have weather system to put in our MFD.

Posted by: Benoit (fr) at February 19, 2009 11:32 AM | Reply

I'm just wildly guessing, but maybe some existing European satellite system will decide to add weather data, even license the Sirius or XM data formats so that existing marine, air, and car gear would work with it.

However, I can not imagine that anyone would try to do what XM and Sirius attempted outside the USA. For one there's a problem with multilingual audio. For another, there's the fact that the two companies, now one, have lost an extraordinary amount of money over the years. I suspect that John Malone knows what he's doing, and that XM/Sirius will make a profit eventually. But the very expensive systems were built on the optimism, and losses, of many investors:

http://tinyurl.com/bponn2

Posted by: Ben at February 19, 2009 12:29 PM | Reply

In Europe this past December I saw the January issue of "Sailing Today" ... featuring an article "16 Weather Instruments ... which one is the best".

Nothing comparable to XM and Sirius weather was listed.

All the European author of "Sailing Today" had to work with was Aneroid Barometers, Home or Multi Purpose Weather Stations (that receive forecast information over radio waves used to display icons (sun/clouds/rain) and numbers on a display), and for boat only products ... NASA MeteoMAN and VION Meteoscan (I guess they were not aware of Clearpoint).

The article didn’t even choose a “best”, as the title seemed to imply. But, it appeared a favor a particular aneroid barometer that looks good in the cabin, and was also positive about one product that used weather data transmitted by radio, up to 1500 miles, with a detail resolution of many hundreds of miles (offshore England is divided into just six zones)

I suppose it would be possible to have a chartplotter receive that radio signal, but I guess there wouldn’t be much incentive if boaters could get the same from a $40 home weather station they can take back and forth from home. I wonder what the icon is for a rough offshore marine forecast ... a sinking boat ?

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at February 19, 2009 3:04 PM | Reply

Leave a comment