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Friday, July 15, 2005

Podcasting : Future Perspectives

(Via Knowledge@Wharton)Steve Jobs, recently called podcasting as "the next generation of radio". Apple recently announced that it had integrated podcasts into the latest version of iTunes software so that users can manage and receive these new kinds of broadcasts. The podcast moniker stuck partially because of the popularity of the iPod, although most of these broadcasts are produced in a format that can be played on music players using the MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3, or MP3, audio compression format. Podcasting can also apply to video broadcasts, but audio dominates for now.The actual content on podcasts is a mix of amateur broadcasters – covering all topics under earth. Podcasting allows listeners to "time shift," or listen to programs at their leisure, unlike radio, which operates on a schedule. The revolution that podcasting is - it is also different from traditional media in that the means of production and distribution are readily available to anyone. The technology required to produce podcast content is relatively simple and, unlike the scarce radio broadcast spectrum, the distribution channel - the Internet - is available to all.
Podcasting is one more step toward the disintermediation of media - with amateurs usurping the audience of media conglomerates. Podcasting in many ways is the audio version of weblogs. Podcasting for audio does what Tivo does for watching television: Entertainment is consumed on your schedule. The media consumption will be routinely time shifted.Like blogging, podcasting does not offer an answer to the question of whether money can be made from the Internet's latest content distribution technique. Analysts divide the business model discussion into two halves: Apple and everyone else. For Apple, podcasts now provide more content to populate the company's iTunes and iPod products. However, longer term it's possible that podcasting will require some kind of paid subscription. The catch is that Apple hasn't focused on subscriptions, choosing to sell songs through iTunes and generating hardware sales as consumers gobble up the iPod. Apple mitigated future risks by tightly integrating podcasts into iTunes. It is expected that Microsoft and RealNetworks to offer guides to podcasting in the near future. A few successful podcasters will be able to charge subscription fees for their shows. Companies that compile podcasts, including Apple, could aggregate podcasts in group subscriptions.

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