“It’s sort of like TiVo, for radio, for your iPod,” he said. “It’s not just the ‘Wayne’s World’ of radio, but real radio is jumping onto this.”

Steve Jobs, 2005, describing the podcast

The now ubiquitous podcast made its debut in 2005, when Jobs and Apple launched this new transmission medium onto the world at large.

In the years, since, the podcast has seen its ups and downs, and currently is enjoying another round of super shiny limelight.   After the success of Serial last year (produced by NPR hit show This American Life), everyone is on the podcast bandwagon, and there are many companies making bank selling advertising on their podcast series. 

ClaimPodcastMarketingBookSmall

On the flip side of the podcast broadcasters, you’ve got the folks (like us) who use the podcast as a means of educating potential and current customers and (hopefully) gaining more customers when listeners turn into buyers.

We recently ran a podcast about podcasting (no, seriously, we did, click here to access the episode) that details what’s so great about podcasts and how they can be used in a myriad of ways.

And there have been numerous articles about podcasting that have hit the mainstream, major media lately.  The newest version comes from the NY Times – and it’s got some good information in it, especially if you’re a podcaster or thinking about becoming a podcaster, or just wondering what all the hullabaloo is about.

Interviews with over two dozen podcasters and people inside Apple reveal a variety of complaints. The podcasters say that they are relegated to wooing a single Apple employee for the best promotion. That sharing on social media is cumbersome. And that for podcasters to make money, they need more information about their listeners, and Apple is in a unique position to provide it. The problems, they say, could even open up an opportunity for a competitor.

And that brings me to the rant for this week!

iTunes may be the undisputed king of podcast promotion, but it’s not the only game in town.  

Yes, the stats that Apple feeds are non-existent (unless you’re a network partner and even those stats are nothing to get excited about), and it’s hard to know much about how you’re doing at Apple specifically, since I swear they go to great lengths to hide the data from you.  But, it’s not impossible with the right stats program (which means getting the right podcast hosting software) to find out the key numbers, of which there’s really only one that matters (check out this article we recently ran about podcast stats).

So what about Stitcher, Spreaker, TuneIn, iHEARTRadio, and the latest player, Google Play Podcasts?  I guess it’s going to depend on who steps up and starts pushing out some super marketing on behalf of their content (shows) in the event that Apple decides to change their model in a way that podcast hosts don’t like.

I am absolutely positive that any of these platforms would welcome the opportunity to disrupt at Apple, but I suspect that Apple is much smarter than going for the short term play (charging podcasters for iTunes placement), and they’re likely planning something that’s much more host friendly (perhaps they’ll offer hosts the opportunity to charge for subscriptions using Apple Pay as the processor medium later this year?) that’s also not likely to piss off a s**t-ton of consumers who listen regularly.

Yes, that’s the most important factor in the equation – not the hosts, not the people producing free content for Apple to add to their walled garden (fantastically trimmed as it is) – but the listeners.  Apple’s got a very good track record with understanding that people want what they want, and giving them a bit more or something slightly skewed from what they thought they wanted.

There are tons of ways I could see iTunes upgrading and updating the platform (and perhaps with Google’s money, muscle and might coming into the arena, they’ll have to do that) to make it SO much more ‘user friendly’ in a way that hosts would LOVE – automatic updates, ‘best of’, friendlier search results, better user interface, and so on.  After all, this is a product that hasn’t had a facelift in more than a decade.

In any case, I’m thrilled that the lowly podcast is getting noticed.

Our podcast marketing product becomes even more valuable in light of any changes that Apple or another major player makes that might impact either the revenue stream or the ability to market podcasts.