Apple and the Death of Podcasting
It’s not Apple’s fault, really. The original idea (hearkening back to the grand year that was 1998) was to create an internet-transmitted radio show that could be downloaded to an array of portable devices (though, the traditional recipient would become the ubiquitous iPod and similar iTunes-enabled devices). Despite everyone’s strenuous efforts and best intentions, “podcasting” didn’t really catch on until 2004. And even that’s overstating it, really. Because, truth be told, podcasting NEVER really took off. In fact, in the mid 2000′s, there were far more podcasts than there were listeners. And now, even though it remains a “live” service and podcasts are readily available, the painful fact is no one cares.
Podcasting is dead.
Many great ideas never take off. And this was one of ‘em. When you think about it, podcasting should have succeeded. After all, it had everything going for it: a clever “trendy” niche that would naturally make non-subscribers feel like they were missing out, an easy delivery process to a gadget that virtually everyone in the Western world owns, and the financial backing of America’s most zealous and brazen technology company (Apple). But none of that mattered…because the CONTENT didn’t matter. Field and Stream released a podcast…and they couldn’t even get their employees to listen. NBC “digitized” their Nightly News and streamed it on iTunes as a podcast….Brian Williams was simultaneously rejected by iPod owners in 126 countries. No one cared. And then, in 2007, Apple finally admitted that podcasting “participation” wasn’t “meeting expectations”. That’s a funny and highly relative measure; because their expectations were abysmal…and yet they somehow managed to underperform by more than 60% (daily listener targets).
This could be a Don McLean song: “The Day The Podcast Died”.
It’s limping along still, sure. It takes Apple forever to admit their misses…and yes, they do have them: Steve Jobs begrudgingly admitted in 2010 that the traditional Apple TV product (and service) fell short of their lofty goals (a laughable understatement) and, most notably, earlier this year, Apple finally abandoned “MobileMe” – which now sits alongside NetZero and VirtualPlaces as the one of the largest and most highly-loathed pariahs in internet history. You know you’re bad when your crappy service makes AOL look reliable.
Listen, I’m not bashing Apple for aiming high. That’s their nature…and they’re America’s last and greatest defense in the technology war. Led by their egomaniacal founder Steve, they’ve bullied their way from a second rate PC computing alternative to the main digital delivery and device firm in the world. That takes balls. Giant brushed-aluminum iBalls. They did it their way and it worked. I won’t begrudge them that success. (I can’t….I use Apple products everyday).
It’s not a revivable commodity. It’s beyond doom. It’s beyond a dark apocalypse. Apple killed it by moving past it – allowing news and information to be presented in a more compelling manner. How? By releasing the iPad…and even the iPhone ~ which support “Net 2.0″ type applications that can deliver the hot topics of the day (and throw in some video and interactivity for good measure). See? It’s like the death of the dinosaurs…and Objective-C programming was the comet. Life moved on…and so did technology.
Goodbye Podcasting. We hardly knew ye.