Sunday, July 10, 2005

Podcasting Frenzy Fed by Apple: Is it Really Such a Big Deal?

Walt Mossberger at the Wall Street Journal filed an interesting piece summing up the state of podcasting, which has taken a definite uptick in hyped frenzy since Apple announced last week that it is making podcasts available for free downloading via its iTunes Web site. Podcasts are flowing into iTunes by the bucketful, making some of the debate about Apple's proprietary "hooks" in the XML used to transport the audio broadcast-like files somewhat moot for the moment. Aggregation by invitation to join a still-trendy platform seems to create de facto standards that are easy to manage for most and are not likely to deter further development of new centers of funkiness for downloadable audio content. Apple's insisting on reviewing podcasts to see if they have explicit content that might get them into more hot water with parents already concerned about whether their kids are at physical risk from toting the little iconic music machines around. This lack of immediacy may slow down any radio-like appeal that would otherwise be enjoyed by these audio downloads.

Mossberger points out that the where and how to get podcasts posted is still problematic. It's really not as hard as he makes it out to be, but for novices wanting to spout off with their mouth as easily as they can with their keyboards via weblogs it may be just hard enough to slow them down that they'll wait for a Yahoo! or similar portal provider to make it easier for them before taking the plunge. With magazines, newspapers and other media outlets beginning to weave audio, video and other multimedia into their content products the greater question may be just how soon we'll find ourselves in an era when we can walk out of the house with our handheld device already loaded with all the news, entertainment and custom-tailored content that we're going to want to consume on the way to work or play. Podcasting's kind of a fun concept the way that dabbling with amateur radio was fun in the early 1920s, but it's only a precursor to a far richer array of multimedia XML-based content objects that are likely to be streaming towards us in the months and years ahead from both amateur and professional sources. Play on, podcasters, but there's far more to come that will be a far, far bigger deal.
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