There's an elephant in the podcast room

There's an elephant in the podcast room

Summary: Dan Farber has a great point about podcasting being a lousy name for Internet-delivered audio files. Podcasting as a moniker has been useful as a starting point for moving from a niche medium to a medium medium.

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TOPICS: Mobility
12

Dan Farber has a great point about podcasting being a lousy name for Internet-delivered audio files. Podcasting as a moniker has been useful as a starting point for moving from a niche medium to a medium medium. Can podcasting make it to a mass medium? Yes, but alas the name may not. Podcasting as nomenclature will certainly become less and less accurate over time, beginning quite soon.

"Podcasting" only works if we limit the the role of myriad syndicated audio creations to portable file players. Yet, in the latest Gillmor Gang, when Podshow honcho Ron Bloom talks of 100 million listeners, we need to consider how limiting "podcasting" really is, and not just because the files can be accessed by PCs and non-Apple iPod players too.

Indeed, there's an elephant in the podcasting room that is not getting as much attention as it should. After all, who wants to wait around until there are 100 million portable audio file players in use beforerecognizing and actualizing the long-tail potential of unfettered mass audio distribution, and the nascent associated social, cultural, knowledge, and commerce benefits therein? Not me; no way. I'm not sure I want to wait for iTunes, as great of an accelerant as it is, to be the only coordination conduit for podcasting, either.

I suspect that "podcasting" is destined to be a global mass medium much more quickly than any of its current constituent parts can scale up. Not individual shows, mind you, but the medium in total in all its garrulous and granular glory. In order for the medium to scale to its potential, the endpoints for accessing and managing these audio creations need to expand in numbers faster than MP3 players, portable PCs/PDAs, and iTunes can.

To Farber's point, we may need to soon drop the "pod" part of podcasting in favor of "mobile"- or "cell"-casting. Because despite the phenomenal growth of iPods, the ultimate device for listening to podcasts will soon be cell phones. The only way the iPod will remain true to the podcasting name is if it gains wireless broadband IP support, in which case it's a trussed up cell phone anyway. And someone other than Apple will run the network, no doubt. (Here's a thought: News Corp. buys Apple and SkyiPod is born! Steve Jobs takes the reins from Rupert and Pixar gets a new distribution partner to boot! You read it here first.)

This could finally be the carriers' revival, err ... dominance play. The mobile device makers and carriers have been waiting for a killer data application for years. And while I've always been tipping off the edge of my seat waiting for the next $3 riotous ringtone to download, the killer data app need has not yet been met. And, yes, while a few rather weighty things need to happen before my cell phone-as-IP-audio-time-shifting-endpoint vision is realized, it is nonetheless inevitable. The only question is who actually puts the whole package together in a consumer friendly way at reasonable cost (and gets an acceptable advertising model in there).

By gump! Give me wireless broadband, a better battery, a 250-GByte hard drive, and an easy interface through which to find, subscribe to, and manage my audio in my cell phone, and I'll give you, Verizon Wireless, another $20 a month. I'll need unlimited air time too, so I'll probably upgrade not just my handset but my service plan too. Oh, and I'd like a USB port and/or bluetooth so I can use my PC for something, in this case to ... Well, screw the PC all together. Just let me hook up my handset to a keyboard, and monitor -- as well as my car! -- when I want to.

Yes, I can hardly wait to watch over the next few years as IT vendors, handset makers, media companies, and mobile carriers court and confound one another. They will dance and spin trying to make my vision a reality. Some providers will cordon off content (ala AOL of years past), others will offer you the entire audio world while calling the other solution a crass commercial loser. May the best wireless broadband IP audio solution win!

This is shaping up as one of the best media-IT business ballets to watch since the portal wars of '97, and tell Tchaikovsky the news.

Topic: Mobility

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12 comments
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  • Forever Podcasting

    Don't try to change it. It will become generic and any device will/
    can be a pod. And just in case you're thinking about it, leave RSS
    alone too.
    PXLated
  • cell phones are "pods"

    If "podcasting" stood for iPods, then it would be called
    "iPodcasting". "Podcasting" in the perfect generic name since all
    mobile devices are "Pods".

    These days it seems like everyone has "Penis Envy" for all of
    Apple's on-going success.
    studentrightsx
  • NO! NO! NO!

    The cell phone isn't going to be the delivery mechanism for
    anything. First they charge you per bit for downloads and kill you
    on every bit of contact that travels over there network. Second the
    phone audio device will go the way of the phone camera. They may
    put one in every phone but nobody is going to use it to take
    pictures on their vacation. A camera is always going to be the
    preferred way to take pictures. Likewise I don't think that a phone
    is going to be the dominant device to listen to music, a music
    device will.
    Raed009
  • Podcasting... Newscorp

    Yeah, "XEROXING" is a terrible name for making cpoies also. What's
    up at ZDNet? Is someone smoking the Microsoft Crack Pipe again?
    Get real. What the hell would Newscorp do with Apple? Maybe
    Newscorp should buy McDonalds as well? I see Newscorp
    purchasing Maytag over all of those.
    mlprice
  • Nuts

    So why should the word Pod be dropped? Because it's associated
    with Apple? The iPod?

    There is no way I'm paying some cellphone company $20 a
    month for what I can already do with my iPod for ZERO dollars!
    Maybe when unlimited cell access is here, and iPods have
    morphed into iPod/PDA/phone chimera, then I'll be interested.
    As long as my unlimited cell access is $30 a month or less. As it
    stands, cell companies are the people who charge $2 plus for a
    really low-quality ring tone while I'm getting darn good fidelity
    from iTunes Music Store for 99 cent a pop.

    The business model you propose is nonsense. And your
    antipathy to the word pod is silly. Lots of words have developed
    over the years that still carry their anachronistic names. Podcase
    sure sounds a HECK of a lot better than those mouthsfull you
    are proposing.
    ewelch
  • Research Needed

    Hi, You didnt do the basic research on this.
    The POD in Podcasting is for Portable On
    Demand not IPOD. This is a mistake I often
    see out on the net but it is wrong. Portable On
    Demand is a very descriptive term and has
    nothing to do with Apple. P.O.D. Casting got
    changed into Pod Casting later after the
    success of the IPod by people like you who
    misunderstand what is actually is.
    JC1963
    • Good point

      I was a little lost with all the talk about doing this on a PC as well as and IPOD. Well duh! Like you said [b]P[/b]ortable [b]O[/b]n [b]D[/b]emand.
      voska
    • Portable?

      Can we really talk about "portable" when portable only means you can walk around with your IPod. If its truly "portable" then I can experience a PodCast on any media device that support standard formats.

      My thoughts for names:
      NetCast
      ICast ("I" as in "me" - a personalized, portable, on-demand broadcast
      )
      ambient
  • What's in a name?

    Hey, I still refer to them as "record stores" and "record companies"
    even though they don't manufacture any vinyl.
    tic swayback
  • what's the news here? NT

    nt
    s10
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