One story behind the XM/Sirius merger announced today is how much money — perhaps a half-billion or more — the two companies spent trying to differentiate themselves in the minds of radio consumers. Other than to a rabid few, the result was de nada: most people just called them “those satellite radio guys”, and never bothered any more to attempt to keep straight who, precisely, was whom.
The upshot: While it’s great fun letting the marketers loose trying to produce something distinct in consumers’ minds, in a nascent market where no-one knows what the real business or customers look like the marketers are chasing a moving target — and the result is an expensively undifferentiated differentiated product.
As a quasi-related aside, I love how the two companies are emphasizing this is a “Merger of Equals”. Nothing like beating people about the headline-head with that sort of thing and hoping they believe it.