Everyone today wants to beat Apple up for what they have done to the Podcast Section of iTunes. New Podcasters are complaining that listeners can no longer find regular podcasts in iTunes. While I don’t disagree with their comments I do have some thoughts on the matter.
When Apple jumped into Podcasting in July 2005 everyone was happy, listener numbers shot straight up and they gave the space a big boost. But for many the numbers leveled off. Today the podcast director on iTunes is a mainstream media fest with an occasional Indy Podcaster getting some love.
Much of this stagnation as some call it is because developers have allowed their podcast download applications to stagnate. (more on that later) On top of that, the Podcast community was so in Love with iTunes that they did little to encourage the existing developers to continue the work on their programs.
Leaders in the podcasting space did little to help. Most simply drank so much of the Apple Koolaid, that they lost sight or abandoned the community of developers that helped kick start the space.
We all thought Microsoft would join the party long before this to help the growth along but that is obviously not going to happen anytime soon. Either because they are simply to arrogant to join the new media evolution or because they don’t think it will enhance their bottom line.
Back to stagnated software and additionally stagnated websites. Their are probably about 20 podcast sites that call themselves directories. Quite honestly many of them are in shambles, they have not only not been maintained but the have shows listed in them that have podfaded a long time ago which should have been removed. I would hope that those owners would shutter those sites versus continuing to display a bad front to the public.
The software development scene in the podcast stand alone application space is simply non existent or fits a those companies vision. The desktop applications being used by a huge number of existing listeners have fallen into the abandon-ware category. Look at Juice, that application has not been updated in ages not to mention the main directory it uses for its main podcast listings has been abandoned for a long time by those that made grandious promises back in the day to keep it maintained.
I would be pissed if I was a new listener and downloaded and installed that application only to find thousands of dead listings.
Podcasters may wonder why the growth of their shows has not been as rapid as it was in the early days. They need to understand that we as a community have not helped in supporting the development of new open source software platforms that could be a desktop alternative to iTunes.
There needs to be a new podcatcher designed, or one improved that is not controlled by any podcasting company. It has to be easy for podcasters to adapt, easy for listeners to consume video and audio content along with the ability to update peoples media players beyond the iPod. I would be Happy if we could find a developer willing to take the existing open source code from Juice update it, and re-release it so that we at least have a application that gets rid of the dead directories embded in it.
I am willing to put my money where my mouth is in donating a significant amount of money to kick start new development, and while I will not be able to bankroll the entire project I would like to see some movement in this area. The question is can enough community people look beyond iTunes and come together to bankroll the building of a world class podcast consumption application without letting agendas consume the project.