Related link: http://www.apple.com/podcasting
Well, as widely predicted, iTunes 4.9 (released today) includes support for podcast subscription and management.
Given that the iPod gave the podcasting phenomenon its name in the first place, it’s a clever move on Apple’s part to embrace it. Some might argue that Apple is attempting to commercialize podcasting, or at least create a public perception of ‘ownership’ of the technology.
Several telling comments have already been made by various reviewers.
Here at O’Reilly, Elizabeth Freeman summed up her quick review of iTunes 4.9 with the words: “I really like that I no longer have to use a separate application to manage my podcasts.”
Exactly. That’s going to be hugely appealing to anyone who already listens to any of Apple’s pre-selected podcasts and likes to do so with an iPod. The introduction of this feature in iTunes means people in that bracket are going to be drawn away from any third-party podcast management tool and towards iTunes.
Another comment comes from Edd Dumbill, in his appraisal of Apple’s use of certain RSS extensions in the podcasts section of the iTunes Music Store: “What could have been a useful and reusable addition to the world of RSS is really rendered only fit for the single use of adding content into Apple’s own iTunes store. Apple prove they know how to be cool, but they’ve got no idea about making friends on the web.”
Edd’s right. They’re expanding the scope of the iTunes Music Store. Why? What benefit does Apple get from doing this?
I suspect the answer lies partly in how podcasts have been integrated in iTunes.
Not as a playlist, not as a plug-in like an iPod device, but as a subsection of the iTunes Music Store.
I think Apple has seen a bright future for the podcasting concept (whether or not it will still be called ‘podcasting’ in future is another question entirely), as a means for professional radio to undergo rebirth and amateur radio to explode from the underground and into the mainstream.
Right now, podcasts are free to listen to, but this will change very soon. Popular podcasters will start to ask listeners to pay a fee. A small one per broadcast, of course, but a fee nonetheless.
If, by that stage, iTunes has become the leading software for distribution and user management of podcasts, it will be a natural next step for those fees to be paid via the iTunes Music Store. And every time you load up another issue of the Daily Source Code or Mommycast, it’ll be another few cents in Apple’s bank account. Ker-ching!
Comment on this weblog