More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

TAKING SIRIUS, SERIOUSLY

They say that necessity is the mother of all invention, but in the case of Sirius XM Radio, it's hard times that is the mother of its reinvention.

It's no secret that satellite radio heavily relied on auto sales to reel in new customers. That source has recently become drier than the Mojave Desert. But its not just the lack of auto sales that's gotten their bottom line all in a bunch. It's the shredded economy which is forcing cash-strapped consumers to keep their money firmly in their pockets. Shelling out dough for a shiny new car is difficult enough. Adding in discretionary items like subscription radio is equally difficult for a consumer to consider when his job is on the line and the kids need to be fed. But no one is tossing their iPod or their iPhone out with the bathwater, and those are absolutely just as discretionary as anything can be (though there are many who may politely argue that point), and that's gotten Sirius CEO Karmazin thinking. It's the access stupid.

Part of iPod's success, in my opinion, has been its user accessibility. If people were going to pay money to download music to enjoy, they were going to want to enjoy it at their leisure, and at the place of their choosing, just like they would be able to do with a regular CD. So iPods now can be played almost anywhere, thanks to compatible playing devices that you can plug the thing into. It's also given an enormous boost to record company sales, and its made it less popular to bootleg downloads via file share programs. To be sure, it's been a win, win situation.

And by the way, while we're on the topic, let me point out that Apple's stock is still a fantastic buy right now, and part of that is due to the ongoing reach and usability of the iPod and the expanding popularity of the iPhone.

And that makes Sirius XM attractive as well, as it looks to integrate and bundle its services with popular devices like the iPod and the iPhone. They may also provide its services through it's relationship with Direct TV, of whom Liberty Media has a controlling stake. Hooking up is just plain smart business thinking, in my opinion. I also think that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I said a long time ago that I thought that satellite radio, in general, would eventually have to consider some form of advertising in order to generate revenue sufficient to carry them to profitability. Nowadays, I think that all Sirius XM needs to do is to present value to the consumer. Broadening the delivery system for their service is certainly going to offer much more in the way of value to the consumer than is currently the case. The more one can do with the service, the easier it is to access and enjoy the service, the more valuable that service becomes to the user. If Sirius XM can pull that off successfully, then I think the company can see its way to becoming profitable sooner rather than later.

Conversely, that profit is a long way ahead, and the company still may face some difficulty meeting debt obligations down the line. Liberty Media also needs to continue to be attracted to the company in order to stay on board. Certainly there is a considerable amount of risk in owning this company. That aside, I think Sirius may be well on their way to something, and for that reason, I think the company is a buy.

Full disclosure: Jim Bauer currently owns shares in both Apple, Inc., and Sirius XM Radio Holdings.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN IS SUFFERING FROM A LACK OF APPRECIATION

Vice president Joe Biden told CNN today that he guaranteed that we are safer today than at any time during the eight years of the Bush Administration, rebuking a statement made by former vice president Dick Cheney in an interview with CNN's John King last month, whereas he told CNN that he felt that some of the choices being made by the Obama administration were putting Americans at greater risk of another terrorist attack.

The statement made by Biden is, of course, incredulous at best, if not a little bit unfair to the obvious successful accomplishment of the Bush administration to avoid future attacks. Bush never could be denied at least that one fact. We were not attacked following that terrible day in September 2001, and that was due largely to the policies of the Bush administration. To deny that is just plain ridiculous. And to Cheney's point, there's also no denying that much of Obama's plan with regard to Iraq, his failure to call terrorists for what they are, his interest in closing down Gitmo and releasing terrorists—potentially onto American soil—are all meant to appease the world. President Obama is pandering. In a way, pandering does indeed put us at a higher risk in that it tells all the bad people in the world we'd rather be touchy, feely than get down to the business of doing what we need to in order to protect our interests.

I'll admit that the United States has a bit of a reputation problem in many parts of the world, and that you can lay a lot of that blame on the Bush administration if you'd like to. That said, since when has it ever been about what the rest of the world thinks? The rest of the world didn't have planes flown into its buildings. The rest of the world wasn't attacked. The president had a choice to make and he made it. And even if you argue that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, certainly there was no denying the combatant stance that was being taken by the Iraqi government, the refusal to allow inspectors in to ensure compliance with U.N. resolutions, and ultimately prove the lack of weapons of mass destruction. There was no denying that Sadam Hussein was an evil dictator bent of killing his own citizens and bringing turmoil, chaos, and fear to his own citizens as well as Iraq's surrounding countries.

If we are safer as a nation today it has absolutely nothing at all to do with the policies of the Obama administration and everything to do with the policies of the former. It has everything to do with the bringing together of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to better communicate and share information and manpower. It has everything to do with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and with tightened security efforts at airports across the nation.

Biden should be thankful.