There are some parts I don’t agree with, but, overall, this article by Matt Haughey is an excellent look at the current state of podcasting:
Podcasting started as a nerdy way to trade files between technologists, and it’s come very far, but at its roots, it’s still a pretty clunky method to collect audio and most podcast clients are glorified file managers. Listening to podcasts is an intensely personal pursuit, but it could also be opened up to easier and better sharing, and help create entire communities around hosts, shows, and episodes in improved ways that are easier than what we have now.
Matt touches upon different points – podcast apps, what podcast producers could do, and the social aspect of podcasts as a new entertainment medium.
The comments on podcast clients especially struck me as accurate and fair: most iOS podcast apps behave like RSS readers for audio, with little innovation in terms of discovery, smart playlists, and sharing tools. One could argue that, on iOS, Apple’s built-in Podcasts app is enough for most people who want to listen to podcasts, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done better or differently. Look, for instance, at the audio effects and recommendations of Overcast or Instacast’s impressive full-text search for show notes.
The same argument could be made for Apple’s Music app – built-in and “enough” for most people. But that didn’t stop Apple from buying Beats Music, which offers a completely different take on music listening that matters. And this is why I’m excited to see what Apple is going to do with Swell and how their acquisition may fit with plans for CarPlay, the Watch, and perhaps iOS 9.
I don’t know if making podcasts go beyond their geeky roots may require change from big players like Apple or simply time and more mainstream shows like Serial, but I’m excited to see how the market will mature in 2015.