Huh? The iPod Shuffle stiffles podcasting?

Huh? The iPod Shuffle stiffles podcasting? That podcasters would whine about the iPod Shuffle is amazing to me. I feel relatively certain that Apple did not have the podcast listener marketplace in mind when it decided to bring the product to market. I feel relatively certain that the 20,000 iPod Shuffles purchased in the first few hours were not being snapped up by eager podcast listeners.

Here’s what I said on the topic in a comment on Doc Searl’s IT Garage blog:

I’m not getting this, Doc. It was just a little over three months ago (on September 28) when you said the term “podcast” only brought up 24 results on Google. Three months. Are we now ready to declare that podcasting adheres to a specific format and therefore Apple screwed up with a product it surely had in development since before September 28 and, frankly, is targeted at a vastly larger market than podcast listeners. (You didn’t say this, but others are.)

Let’s hope not. As much as I appreciate what pioneering podcasters have done, I don’t think the highest, best use of the concept is what is being done three months into all of this. And are we already at the point where specifications for the perfect podcasting player can be declared? Three months. And does anyone really think that a feature set is what is needed to compete with the iTunes platform? You say they should be open like But it tooks years for Amazon to embrace the notion that facilitating transactions rather than retailing was their real opportunity. I couldn’t agree with you more, by the way. I wish iTunes were open and hope they’ll listen to you. By the way, I think the iTunes folks are very devoted students of and have commented on that at length.

The iPod Shuffle sold 20,000 units in its first few hours. I doubt 20 of those purchases were by people who wanted to find the perfect device for listening to podcasting (although, I do know of one). I predict there will be dozens of special-usage iPods (or iPod-enabled devices by third parties – like the Motorola iPod enabled phone -in the coming months — swimming goggles with a waterproof iPod-enable flash memory device attached is on my wish list.)

Bottom line for me: Like Ed Rice, I think any device that gets more MP3 players in the hands of millions of people is going to be the big dog that wags podcasting’s long tail. And, if I were Apple and had to choose between creating a product for a market consisting of Adam Currey listeners or one consisting of millions of joggers and 12 year olds, well, I know the one I’d create first.

  • Tom

    I’ll go out on a whim and say right now that a significant number of people who, outside of the “early adopter / tech freaks” that purchased the Shuffle this time around, the product will be mostly used by people who won’t be podcasting followers, for the most part. It’s a simple way to shuffle up your own digital music, and that’s about it. That’s the point.

    I think this is one of the most ludicrous arguments I’ve seen of late. One has nothing to do with the other – at all. It’s like saying that because Steve McNair was injured this season, Doug Brien missed two field goals to win in the playoffs today, IMHO.

  • rex

    Tom, ouch. You’re right, but do you have to remind me with THOSE examples? : )

  • Tom Biro

    Hey, I’m (still sort of, I guess) a Raider fan, so it could be worse.

    Then again, Volek just had surgery, didn’t he.

  • Craig Patchett

    First of all, the 20,000 sales figure for the first hour was wrongly reported…it was actually 2,000 and based on a single Apple store in San Francisco. Still impressive though.

    Second, I agree with Tom’s comment that the vast majority of Shuffle owners won’t even have a clue what podcasting is, at least for a while. And, frankly, the majority of Shuffle owners who ARE podcast listeners won’t care about all the naysayers either. The fact of the matter is that the Shuffle works just fine for what podcasting was originally intended to be…the equivalent of an on-demand pirate radio station customized with the content you want to hear.

    Finally, just to clear up a few of the misconceptions that seem to have arisen around the Shuffle…while you can’t set bookmarks (who cares), you can always pause in the middle of a long podcast and come back to it later. While you can’t scrub through a podcast like you can on a regular iPod, you can fast forward and backward by holding down the skip track buttons. And while everyone seems focused on the Shuffle’s random fill feature, you can also transfer a specific playlist and play it in order if you so desire.

  • Craig Patchett

    Sorry, that was 2,000 in the first four hours, not hour, or 8 a minute on average. Here’s a link to one of the sites reporting the correction:

  • John Gordon

    Well I for one am here reading this because I got an iPod Shuffle yesterday. It’s my first MP3 player, it’s in my price range, and there isn’t a reason you can’t use it for listening to podcasts. The nature of the medium can change, into something less than a fourty minute ramble. I get up in the morning, load what I want to on my shuffle while I read my email, and carry it with me to work. At the end of the day, I load up my music to workout to, and enjoy iy. iPs=more listeners, period.

  • John Gordon

    I forgot, Walmart will have them in April, 50 units per store, more than 5000 stores. BestBuy can’t keep them on the shelf, I got the last one. This is the device for the common man, and it opens things up to a whole slew of new people.