iTunes + Podcasting

June 28, 2005

iTunes 4.9, which was released today, includes integrated podcast support and a podcast directory.

Podcast subscriptions now have their own special source list and it is easy to manage subscriptions within iTunes. This is not all that much different from NetNewsWire's support for podcasts. NNW can automatically download podcasts and add them to the iTunes library and a podcast playlist. iTunes makes it easier to find and manage podcast subscriptions.

The best part about this new feature is that it is a real example of the democratization of media. Unlike the Music Store, Apple doesn't host any podcast audio files-- it simply uses RSS feeds to keep track of podcasts hosted all around the web. Apple posted directions on how to record a podcast using Garage Band and iTunes and add the podcast to the Podcast Directory.

It is interesting to see how programs that are on the same stations in the traditional media live in different worlds in iTunes. Featured podcasts On the Media, The Treatment and Le Show are carried on public radio stations. This American Life, All Things Considered and Morning Edition are carried on the same public radio stations, but available for downloads only through the Audible paid subscription service.

So far, I've moved over my subscriptions from NetNewsWire and added a couple. I am subscribed to The Brian Lehrer Show, On the Media, Le Show, The Importance of Law and IT. Perhaps I'll have a chance to listen to these after Bob Feinberg gives up control of my iPod.

Hopefully, the next feature to come to iTunes will be a subscription service like Yahoo Music and Napster-to-Go. As much as I think the ownership model still applies to music, the free buffet approach looks like a winner, too (especially at Yahoo's $60/year price level.) The subscription model lowers the transaction costs of listening to new music and makes it easier to sample new artists.

Posted by Andrew Raff at June 28, 2005 10:27 PM
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