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Sirius XM tuning in to iPhone application

Satellite radio company gears up to launch an iPhone application in the second quarter, as it seeks to expand its service amid a bleak economy.

Update at 8:19 a.m. PDT, with comment from Sirius XM.

Sirius XM is planning to launch an iPhone application by June in a move to expand its market, the satellite service provider said Thursday during an analyst conference call.

The iPhone application will be available to Apple's U.S. iPhone users and Sirius XM customers, as well as to iPod Touch Wi-Fi users.

Sirius XM charges $12.95 per month for its Internet radio service. It is not immediately clear whether iPhone and iPod users will incur the same service fees.

A Sirius XM representative declined comment, other than to refer to the statement made by President Jim Meyer during the fourth-quarter conference call with analysts. In it, Meyer said:

On another exciting front we have been testing a number of initiatives to make the Sirius XM content and experience more ubiquitous. As noted during our shareholders' meeting in December, Sirius XM has been working on an application that will allow subscribers to stream our Internet content to their iPhones and iPod Touch devices. When released, this application will permit an estimated 7 million U.S. iPhone users and additional iTouch users to access Sirius and XM Internet content.

This will allow existing subscribers with a paid streaming subscription to access our content. This will also allow new customers to subscribe to our service without having to buy a radio. This is a large and interesting opportunity that will maintain our subscription-based economics while providing customers easier access to our content through means other than our traditional satellite-based platform. We are currently in rigorous applications testing and plan to launch in the second quarter."

For Sirius, the Apple deal is something its been working toward for at least four years. Back in 2005, Sirius expressed interest in partnering with Apple to put its satellite service on the iPod. But Apple CEO Steve Jobs didn't reciprocate.

In securing a deal with Apple, Sirius may be able to expand its market by riding on the popularity of the iPhone and iPod.

The company completed its long-sought mega-merger with XM Satellite Radio last year, a deal that executives of the companies had said was necessary as they faced increased competition from Internet music services, such as Apple's iTunes.