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XM Upgrades Website

In preparation for commercial service launch late this summer, XM Satellite Radio has redesigned its website. The company says it has added several new features to the site intended to drive subscriptions and raise awareness of XM programming options.

While the company has said it will not stream its signal to computer desktops-relying instead on people buying new, XM-enabled car stereos-sound samples are now available on the Internet. More important, the site purports to list the types of stereo units being made available and a retailers locator.

A quick Gavin test drive of XM’s new site netted somewhat questionable results. While we were able to view a bunch of nifty new XM-ready receivers that consumer can have installed in their cars, we were not able to locate retailers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Diego and had terrible trouble in streaming music samples. When we searched for retailers, the site returned a message indicating that “No backend server available for connection.” And despite the fact that this office enjoys a pretty speedy broadband connection (a T-1 line), the site was about a slow as molasses going uphill in wintertime.

“The site redesign represents the first step in our commitment to serve all of XM’s future fans using the Internet,” said John Latona, XM’s Director of eBusiness. “Now, consumers have an opportunity to see how XM will revolutionize radio-they can listen to samples of the wide range of our innovative programming, take a closer look at a variety of XM radios and learn how the service will work in their cars and homes.”

XM says that it will offer up to 100 channels with coast-to-coast coverage beginning later this summer. The company has partnered with several manufacturers to build “XM-ready” radios, including Sony, Alpine, Pioneer, Clarion, Blaupunkt, Delphi-Delco, Visteon, Panasonic, and Sanyo which will be made available through retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City, RadioShack, Sears, and Crutchfield.

XM’s strategic investors include General Motors, American Honda Motor Co. Inc., Clear Channel Communications, DIRECTV, and Motient Corporation.

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