Once you’ve invested the admittedly minimal effort required to get it working, though, it is a markedly easier process than manually downloading MP3 files and installing them on your iPod all by yourself. To me, this improvement in the user experience is the central innovation, in spite of iPodderX’s minor shortcomings.
It’s true that all the components of podcasting have been around for a while, and that bundling them together and giving them a trendy name seems suspect. But I’m a believer in the idea that improvements to user experiences are the meat of most truly meaningful technological innovations.
Now that I’m successfully and regularly subscribed to various podcasting feeds, I’m sold on the concept. It’s made my iPod seem many times more useful and indispensable. Right now, I only subscribe to a few feeds, but I’m already backlogged on my listening — there’s just not enough time to get through it all. I’ve tried and discarded my share of less-than interesting podcast subscriptions, but I’ve also found a very healthy amount of very good content being turned out on pretty aggressive schedules. I guess what I need is a longer commute.
Show Me the Money
Part of the excitement of this technology is that, in spite of the overly effusive hype, there seems to be some real business potential at play. It’s encouraging that media sources like NPR are taking it seriously — the fact that the public broadcaster’s On the Media program is available as a podcast was a very strong impetus for my initial interest. There are at least a few clients we’re working with that could benefit from the very specific and potentially lucractive demographic of users who’ve figured out how to subscribe to podcasts. In fact, I fully expect podcast handling functionality to start appearing in browsers next year. Forrester even estimates that, within 5 years, there will be about 12 million people “synchronizing podcasts to their MP3 players,” which sounds great to me. I’m just hoping that when we get to that stage, individual podcasters are still turning out genuinely interesting and diverse content.