How Apple will change everything about Podcasting, #4 — They’ll make it simple.

How Apple will change everything about Podcasting, #4 — They’ll make it simple.

(Note:
This is #4 in a series of posts I’ve made during the past few days
regarding the impact — positive and negative — of iTunes embracing —
the iTunification — of podcasting. Here is a link to a page displaying all of the posts, chronologically. Also, here is an RSS feed of posts in this series.)

I
had a very long post prepared on the point I’m about to argue. When I
completed it, I thought, how ironic is it to spend so many words trying
to explain how Apple can make podcasting — everything about it —
simple.

Forget hip. Forget micropayments. Forget marketing juggernaut.

Just, simple.

Simple, as in I don’t have to set up any new software or comprehend
what’s taking place. Simple, as in I don’t need to know what RSS is.
Simple, as in I just have to click on something to subscribe.

So,
you can stop right there and not read anything else.

All the words
after this are several ways I’m guessing Apple will make podcasting
simple.

Simple thing 1: You will subscribe to a podcast with
one click and without the need (and corresponding hassle) to set up
anything.

The major RSS newsreaders (on both Mac and
Windows platforms) offer elegant and intuitive methods of synching up
podcasts (RSS-enclosures) with iTunes (and, I assume, other platforms
on which people organize their audio files and download them to MP3
players.) However, those elegant approaches are merely transitional
solutions and, frankly, are a hassle for those who have low tolerances
for coping with something that needs more instruction than “click
here.” Indeed, this low threshold is perhaps why people don’t even
download and set-up RSS newsreaders in the first place.

Apple
will make subscribing to a podcast as simple to understand and execute
as it is currently to subscribe to a streaming MP3 audio program
(called Radio now on iTunes) using iTunes. (Wait. Some people don’t know that,  in
addition to the hard-coded radio streams available on iTunes in the Radio folder, you can
listen to any MP3 stream
via iTunes. Look for one of those hardcoded “podcasting” folders, but
I’m guessing you’ll still be able to subscribe to any podcast you want
in much the same way.

For podcasters, this “Simple thing 1” means that whenenver anyone you
know who uses iTunes (i.e., anyone with an iPod) asks how to subscribe
to your show (or whatever it is you do), all you have to say is this:
“Go to my podcast’s URL and drag that orange “XML” button  (or
maybe a “iTunes this” button) into your iTunes playlist folder that
says podcasts.” Then you’ll explain, “Everytime I have a new show (or
whatever), it will automagically appear in that folder.” (End of
instructions.)

Simple thing 2: If you want to, it will be easy (one day) to sell your podcast through iTunes.

Most
of you won’t ever sell podcasting content. (I hope.) But, if you do,
iTunes will make it simple. And not merely because they’ve already
created the defacto micropayment transaction platform for audio files
(that integrates Paypal, credit cards, pre-paid cards available at
retail outlets, parent’s allowances, and gift certificates), but,
theorectically, at least, they already have a model and process in
place to service a new “supply chain” and channel in commercial
podcasting. If you want to get a feel of how it will work, here is a link
to the online application they use now for independent record labels
and individuals who want to sell their music via the iTunes store. I
assume Apple is now working on nailing down “programming” feeds from the
“major labels” of potential commercial podcasting (whoever they may
be). A similar online applicatioin will be available to the “indies” of
commercial podcasting.

Once you have an account, when you finish
producing your podcast programming (more on that next), you’ll
be able to upload it to the iTunes store via something that will likely
be called, “The iTunes professional podcaster producer” (registration/approval/secret handshake required). It will likely add some “evil” or “necessary” (depending on your
point-of-view) Digital Rights encoding and send the file on its way to
the iTunes Stores warehouse shelves. Also, when Apple starts stocking your
podcasts on the iTunes Store, they’ll offer you marketing support
through something that will likely be called “iTunes Podcaster Marketing Support“.

Simple
thing 3: You’ll be able to produce pro-level-production-value audio
using software as easy-to-use as iPhoto or iMovie or…

iPhoto and iMovie
and iTunes display how Apple can make amazing software that enables
those willing to scale a slight learning curve to create and manage
digital media. GarageBand
is an equally stunning software platform for the less-than-pro audio
producer. However, it is packaged and marketed as, well, a product for
creating music. I’m guessing that’s about to change. Or, it should.

Producing
and posting a high-production-value podcast will get a lot easier when,
sooner or later, Apple strips out some of its music-centric features
and repackages something called “GarageBand – Podcaster Version” or, simply as “iPodcaster” or something similar.

And here’s a bonus thought for those of you who are slightly more geeky and Mac-centric
than the typical reader of this weblog:  Don’t forget there are rumors (as
in, the suing kind of rumors) of a “fireware audio device
that, in effect, will serve as an external “break-out box” for connecting different mics and input devices (that’s it — I’ve hit my audio production BS ceiling) for using GarageBand for audio production. This device will give
most people (exception:  high-end music production pros) all the tools they should
need to produce quality audio.

Simple thing 4: You’ll soon be able to “create” podcasts on the iPod

Don’t care about production value? Here’s one for you.

A few simple tweaks will enable iPods to serve as a production
platform as well as a sound capturing, storing and listening platform. I’m guessing
it won’t take long for Apple to introduce an iPod, podcaster version. As I’ve
noted, one can see the pathway to this product by considering that today,
a Griffin iTalk & Griffin iTrip,
can in a rudimentary fashion, create and broadcast MP3 files. With
higher quality input and wi-fi output, you’ve got what I’m talking
about.

Think about that: An iPod that allows anyone within the range of a
wi-fi access point the opportunity to podcast on location. Come to
think of it, you can do that today with a cell-phone, but saying that
is not nearly as impressive as implying that doing it on an iPod is
something new.

(Also, watching Dave Winer create a podcast on his Archos is enough to make me think Apple would be crazy not to.)

(Next
up: What this means for all the other podcast ventures and open source
projects and how Apple could screw up podcasting. And then, my final
post: Synopsis, or here’s the e-mail I’ve received with some great
ideas.)

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Great idea, I guess

Great idea, I guess: The New Yorker will publish its entire 80-year archives on searchable computer discs this fall, according to NY Times (by way of chron.com).

Quote:

“The collection, The Complete New Yorker, will consist
of eight DVDs containing high-resolution digital images of every page
of the 4,109 issues of the magazine from February 1925 through the 80th
anniversary issue, published last February. Included on the discs will
be ‘every cover, every piece of writing, every drawing, listing,
newsbreak, poem and advertisement.'”

This archival usage a PDF-like-version of a magazine,
sometimes called “digital magazines” is one of those rares cases where
the medium (digital magazines) make sense to me (there are others I’m
sure and if you’re in that business, don’t email me telling me about
them — again).
In the big scheme of things, I wonder how long consumers will be using
the current format of DVD. Libraries will be stuck with them for
decades (they still have really cool microfiche readers I hear), but
having this product on 8 DVDs seems, well, a sure-fire way to make them
apear “quaint” in about a decade or so.

Despite those reservations, I feel certain I’ll get the collection if the pricing is, as predicted, $100.

Okay, I went to the Nashville Apple Store grand opening (but I’m auctioning off my sealed-box T-shirt and donating the funds to the EFF’s legal defense fund)

Okay,
I went to the Nashville Apple Store grand opening (but I’m auctioning
off my sealed-box T-shirt and donating the funds to the EFF’s legal
defense fund):
Seeing the line (this photo is a small fraction of
it) waiting to get into the Green Hills Apple Store grand opening, I
peeled off and came back later. As luck would have it, I was able to
still obtain a T-Shirt despite being well beyond the 1000th store
visitor.

Speaking of that T-Shirt, I have just placed the T-Shirt up for auction on eBay to benefit the efforts of the Electronic Frontier Foundation to defend bloggers sued by Apple. I will contribute 100 percent of the proceeds, plus a $25 matching contribution.

The
shirt is still in a sealed box — the photos are from the open box of
another member of the rexblog household who’d rather wear his — and
you
can read
about it on the auction page
.

Why am I doing this? Seems
like a nice win-win balance of my love-hate relationship with Apple:
Love their products (have since 1984), hate their legal strategy. If
they are successful in the courts, the unintended conseqences will
affect all those who cover business-news, passionist or professional
alike.

But now, bid high!

Update: At 8:30 p.m., Sunday night, we’re already at $25…and with my match, the donation to EFF is up to $50.