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May 23, 2005

iTunes to support podcasts (and Forrester's podcasting forecast)

By Charlene Li

Just saw on various blogs that iTunes 4.9 will support podcasts. Steve Jobs made the announcement at D: All Things Digital Conference last night. The service will be available within 60 days, Jobs said.

This will make the whole podcasting phenomenon SO much easier. I've just been playing with a few other RSS aggregators this morning and noticed that You Software's RSS reader allows one-click subscription to podcasts and automatically downloads the files into iTunes. I'm sure there are other aggregators will allow you to do this -- I'm just getting caught up so let me know what you're favorite podcasting solution is!

Jobs also mentioned that he'll include a directory of podcasts, allow publishers to add podcasts to the directory, and even allow them to charge for podcasts. As a long-time subscriber to Audible, I find this a very interesting alternative, even substitute to Audible's subscription programs. If I can easily find and download my favorite broadcasts -- even if I have to pay -- I'll switch. Audible better get its podcasting act together very soon!

Lastly, I realized that I hadn't written about Forrester's podcasting forecast. It makes a little appearance in The Future Of Digital Audio report that my colleague, Ted Schadler wrote in March (available to clients only). He looks at podcasting as a "time-shifted audio experience" with adoption driven by a combination of broadband penetration and MP3 ownership. 2005 forecast is 300,000 US households using, rising to 12.3 million US households by 2010. This feels about right -- that will be 36% of all MP3 owners in 2010 that also use podcasts.

Sites discussing the iTunes announcement:

O'Reilly Radar
Six Apart Blog


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» Podcasting is almost mainstream from NevOn
Is podcasting really starting to move as a serious business communication tool, never mind it's entertainment appeal? Yet more signs: 1. iTunes to directly support podcasts Engadget via Charlene Li: Steve Jobs just revealed at the D: All Things Digital [Read More]

» Apple to add podcasting support in iTunes from The Right Channel
There has been a lot of comment around the blogosphere about the challenge to Audible represented by Apple's announcement that it will include RSS support in an upcoming version of iTunes. It's a welcome addition to the iTunes feature... [Read More]

» iTunes to support podcasts from Mind Sharer - For The Marketing Mind
At the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital Conference, Steve Jobs announced that the podcasts support will be relased along with iTunes 4.9 within about 60 days. This is certainly a very good news for podcaster. Here is O'Reilly Radar's sni... [Read More]


Bob Travis

What is the big deal about podcasts? Is a podcast any different from any digital spoken word content I have been able to download from the Usenet newsgroups over the course of the past ten or more years? Does it make any difference whether I listen to it on an ipod, on a secure digital card placed in my PDA, recorded to a CDR and played on a CD player? The technology has been around for over a decade, so why all the fuss at this point in time?

Brad Hill

Charlene -- good point about iTunes supplanting Audible. I had seen v4.9 as an iPodder-killer, and that might betrue, but the threat to Audible is far more interesting.

Listen, I've sourced Ted Schadler many times and I like him. But I have to smile when I see his prediction of podcast adoption in 2010. I'm sorry to ask this, and I'm certain to offend, but-- how much do you guys get paid for saying stuff like this? [g]


from what i heard, Audible is partnered with iTunes for any spoken-word content that is not free.

Eric Hayes

Charlene, Thanks for the mention!

To address Bob's question above: No, it's pretty much the same, and you don't have to listen on an ipod (it is just that the term was coined as a meathod to publish audio [to an ipod]).

Where it differs is in the distribution aspect of the experience. Being able to subscribe to the content, riding piggyback with your RSS is the key. It has the same appeal as RSS itself; you don't have to remember to check to see if the podcasters you listen to have published anything new. With a good news reader (trying not to be a marketing shil here) you just subscribe to the RSS feed & when they publish something new that day, it seemlessly gets put on your ipod (or windows media player, etc.), and you notice the text of the RSS article in your news reader.

Eric Hayes
You Subscribe:RSS

Charlene Li

Addressing Brad Hill's comment above: I’m glad you like Ted and his writing. But here’s my question back to you – what do you think the forecast should have been? It seems like you have an opinion – is it too high, too low, and why? I sure would like to know, as it would certainly help us be more informed about how we should go about doing the forecast! And this is not meant defensively – Ted and I both know it’s early to be doing a forecast, but the most valuable aspect of the forecast was putting podcasting in the context of a digital audio forecast. Not doing so would have been to ignore a really important trend that Ted thought would impact the future of digital audio. So in some ways, we were damned if we did a forecast, damned if we didn’t!

Brad Hill

Charlene--thanks for the response. You're right about being damned if you do and damned if you don't, and it leaves you at the mercy of caustic comments such as mine. Methodology is moot. Five-year forecasts of a new social phenomenon are always going to be vulnerable. I'm not the only person rolling his eyes, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be done. People in your position should forecast trends, people like me should chuckle over them, and all will be right with the world.

Green Day Poster Girl

Now that the technology is out on Itunes I have to say I LOVE IT. It's great to have access to all of this knowledge in this fashion (I'm a total auditory learner). Video Blogs are coming next!


There has been a lot of comment around the blogosphere about the challenge to Audible represented by Apple's announcement that it will include RSS support in an upcoming version of iTunes. It's a welcome addition to the iTunes feature...


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