Thursday, June 02, 2005

iTunes and Podcasting = my take

So it's been a few days since Steve Jobs announced that iTunes 4.9 will support podcasting. What exactly does that mean? It's like that nobody (other than Steve Jobs, of course) really knows, but I've considered it and wanted to get my thoughts out there. You can see them after the "Read More" jump.

First things first. Podcasts today are generally free. There may be a few exceptions with pay-for-subscription based 'casts, but by and large, they are free. So why does Apple want to include them in iTunes? What's in it for them? Plenty, I say.

The way I look at it, Apple will have a strategy that's a take-off on what I presented a few weeks ago: a centralized service that captures and records statistics of podcast downloads. I figured that the podcatchers could capture that information and send it back, perhaps via RSS / XML to a server that would aggregate the disparate stats. It was win-win to me because the consumer would provide information in return for getting information: namely, what the most popular podcasts are, for example.

Take this idea and reverse it. Now Apple can capture all of the download statistics for podcasts. Stats like number of downloads, location of consumer, type of show, etc...hmmm...good information, no? I forsee the iTunes podcast model working this way:

1. Podcasts are still free.
2. Popular podcasts (based on number of downloads) are more prominently displayed.
3. Apple will collect information and sell it to advertisers.
4. Apple will use the information to insert or add sponsorship info to podcasts.

What do YOU think?

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