Big Changes Coming for Podcasts – and Radio may be in the Bulls-Eye

From CultofMac:

Apple’s developer release of iOS 6 created an instant mystery: Podcasts are missing from the iTunes app! In fact, references to “Podcasts” are in there. Things have been re-arranged, and podcasts deemphasized. Something is going on.

The rumor and/or speculation is that Apple will spin podcasts out into a separate app (but keep it in the desktop version of iTunes). This prediction is supported both by funny business in the app, and also inside information from unnamed sources “close to the company.”

Now why would they want to do this?

Giving podcasts their own app changes the emphasis. Right now, podcasts are presented as downloadable music’s ugly stepsister. Podcasts are displayed awkwardly in iTunes as a form of music, or at least just a two-bit, third-rate category of audio.

If Apple is heroic and respectful of users, they will give podcasts their own app and make it one of the default apps on iOS. This would increase the importance of podcasts. And I think this is what they’re going to do.

CultofMac reasons that if “iPodcasts” were its own default app, that app could also include audiobooks, thus sticking it to Audible.com, which is owned by rival Amazon.

And when you add voice-control, courtesy of Siri, you get on-demand podcasts and audiobooks from a brightly showcased default app built into the OS on every mobile device.

Adds CultofMac:

The home-run approach to all this is that you subscribe to your favorite podcasts, and new episodes download automatically from the cloud to your phone. When you’re in your car, you tell Siri: “Play my podcasts,” Siri will play them in reverse chronological order or in order of user rankings (depending on your preferences).

During your daily commute, you’ll listen to “talk radio.” But instead of desperate groups of un-funny idiots trying to imitate Howard Stern or put-you-to-sleep NPR type shows, you’ll hear the podcasts you’ve selected from the thousands available.

I think the new iPodcasts app will work a lot like Stitcher, but Siri-controllable.

The big losers are likely to be the companies using “pod” in their trademark, Audible.com and radio.

Right or wrong?

Time will tell.

So what does this mean for radio if it comes to pass?

It means you had better develop sensible and effective podcasting strategies, for one.  And by that I mean a strategy that gives folks what they want, the way they want it, and when they want it.

It also means you should be experimenting with monetization schemes.

To say this would be a tremendous boon to public radio is, of course, an understatement (despite CoM’s disparaging reference).  The “work” to use podcasts today is far too great – the thresholds are too high for most consumers.  Anything that makes that process easier and more attractive will mightily contribute to acceptance and usage.

And those quarter-hours in the car will have to come from somewhere.

(Thanks to Tom Asacker for the link).

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  • This is my opportunity to thank you for taking on the mantle of consultant of the future. Knowing the radio business, I know this was a gutsy move. Thanks for being in with both feet, all arms, and heart. Can radio be saved from itself and the current Wall Street mindset? Who knows. But I see you, working on it.

  • Thanks Dave! I appreciate the comment!

  • Paul

    As is the track record for Apple… looks like they’ve noticed Stitcher and are planning their own version. They’ve done this with so many other apps in the past. Looking forward to the continuing rise in prominence of my fellow podcasters

  • It will be great for consumers when Apple breaks out a Podcast App but I’d like to see what the back-end will look like for the podcast creators. Could they finally have some sort of dashboard? So podcasters can update their icons, Show descriptions, respond to comments or updating show URLs. Can we sell our shows or build in pre and post rolls?

    Don’t get me wrong I love the platform Apple has provided for a new form of content. But it would be nice to be able to edit my show profile like I would my Facebook, LinkedIn or even YouTube profile. I’m holding my breath on that.

    As far as local content I’m still wondering why radio and TV won’t reach out to local community podcast stars and find a ways to add to their voice. That content might cover aspects of the hyper local that the anchor talent doesn’t or won’t cover.

  • Good points. Apple could do much more to empower creators, just as the do for movie-makers with iMovie.
    Why don’t broadcasters reach out to more podcast stars? Well, most podcast stars don’t produce 3 or 4 hours of content per day and stations can’t figure out how to use less. But the larger answer is that there is no good answer. And that speaks volumes.
    Mark Ramsey

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