Sirius XM May Have a Problem With GM

Sirius XM May Have a Problem With GM

General Motors and Sirius XM Radio have been symbiotic partners in the past, but there are two reasons to believe that the two companies may not have an equally harmonious future.

We can start with telematics, where GM's OnStar is the undisputed market champ.

Sirius XM announced a partnership with Nissan to offer premium telematics in Nissan cars last year, and Sirius XM's presence in this promising niche expanded dramatically with last week's $530 million deal for Agero's connective vehicle services business.

Now GM may be fighting back in a less direct manner.

The CEO of Powermat Technologies -- a leading maker of wireless charging systems for smartphones -- revealed yesterday that GM will start offering its charging mats in some cars next year.

You've probably seen the Powermat chargers at a consumer electronics store. You may even own one. It's not a universal solution. The phones have to offer wireless recharging, but there's also a special case that can be used for phones that don't offer that feature.

How is this a threat to Sirius XM? Well, think about it. Some of the common knocks against streaming Pandora or Spotify through dashboard audio systems in lieu of satellite radio are metered data plans, inconsistent connectivity, and sapping a phone's battery dry.

There's nothing that GM cars with Powermat chargers can do about bandwidth or carrier reception concerns, but depleting a car's battery by streaming a cloud-based music service won't be an issue.

Yes, one can argue that many newer model cars offer USB charging ports already. However, there's something to be said about the convenience of resting a phone on a mat for juice without having to do a thing.

Now, in Sirius XM's defense, GM has far more to gain by working with the premium radio service than against it. GM was an early investor in Sirius XM, and it collects a healthy royalty for every active GM driver on the service. The move to offer wireless smartphone and tablet charging is about selling more cars, establishing GM on the cutting edge of mobile technology. It's not being positioned as a shot at Sirius XM.

However, won't this help Pandora? If you have wireless charging, drivers will use it, making the most of apps that they can run seamlessly from their car controls.

GM and Sirius XM will continue to benefit one another, but investors have to realize that they're starting to see other people.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors and Pandora Media. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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