Podcasts, Software and iRSS?

I’m looking around today trying to find some podcasts to ‘audition’ for a while to see if I like. Britcaster seems a good place to start as so many podcasts are US-centric, but then I find some places that are subbing their podcast feed to Apple – and only Apple. The other day I mentioned Odeo – I downloaded but did not install their 8meg file. But now I’m in the position where if I want a feed from Apple, and another from Odeo, I need to install both sets of software. Here’s a clue .. no frigging way. What’s next ? A Sony iPod beater (here’s one, and another) with Sony music also having such a ‘Podcast Shopfront’ ?
I thought RSS was going to be independent and free – doesn’t this move stop both those ? Fact is that it’s already been pointed that Apple are not playing by the RSS rules so this just makes what was getting odd into a complete mess. What next iRSS ?
I can see why people are submitting to these places – because of the lure, the want to get a higher profile (hey people, your bandwidth will cope won’t it ?) but by doing so they also cut off those people who choose not to install additional unwanted programs onto their machines. After all, if you install iPodder at least you can be confident that when it updates it is not going to cycle through your machine rendering ‘unapproved by Apple’ (or whatever) mp3’s unplayable.

I’m happy with FeedDemon to grab files, and Winamp or my mp3 player to play them. I can click a download link, I’m perfectly capable of managing the files in the download folder and I can upload them into my player just fine too. I don’t need or want or will ever use some chunky program which because it has to have firewall permissions I can’t trust not to update and screw around with what I have. Equally, I cannot trust it not to spy on my activities in some way. All I want is to be able to find and grab some podcasts without having to go near some corporate site. And no it’s not a pop at just Apple – ANY big company doing this does not have any altruistic motives. What will Apple do ? Create the market, be known as “the place to be for podcasts” and then start introducing ads / conditions / costs and as there will be nowhere else for people to go, people will fall into line. Microsoft should beat Apple simply by doing this above board, transparent and free.
Back to searching independent directories…

9 thoughts on “Podcasts, Software and iRSS?

  1. Apple doesn’t control the RSS feeds of the podcasts it displays in the directories. You should be able to view the website associated with a podcast from the iTunes Store. A little searching on their site should show you their publicly available podcast feed. It has to be there, somewhere, otherwise Apple couldn’t publish it.

  2. Phil – I looked and as far as I can figure, unless I install iTunes I cannot see anything at all. And some internal links on the Apple site freaked Firefox out.

    No iTunes ? No podcast directory.

  3. Well, if they’re iTunes only feeds, then how did you find them to start with?
    I thought the iTunes directory only points to publicly accessible feeds, I could be wrong though.

    Also, you can import any podcast into iTunes, go “Advanced->Subscribe to Podcast”.

  4. What I meant was that I go to a podcast site, and I find that they are “encouraging” their viewers to get the podcast from Apple. They are doing this by making their podcast feed link from Apple – because they want to be in the Apple chart and high up in it. So for them, to offer a feed that does not go through Apple makes no sense. Yes it is public in that they have the choice, but they have closed it off. They are sucked into the hype – and people like me who will not install their software are left podcastless.

  5. HI Phil, many thanks for the Britcaster plug (I’m its creator).

    I agree to a certain extent with your observation that iTunes (and others) may be segmenting the podcast space rather than being the means podcasting reaches ‘mainstream’.
    There are advantages to the podcaster, however. All of the Britcaster podcasters have found that with the release of iTunes 4.9, their download numbers have leapt up and the vast majority of downloads originate from iTunes. In particular the Britpack – a monthly community-produced podcast by a number of the Britcasters – affords over 80% of its downloads to iTunes… and that’s a feed that has not yet been added to the iTunes directory. We are all seeing some odd behaviour in the stats and it will take a little while to smooth out.
    iTunes might be widening the podcast audience, but is in danger of focusing that audience’s attention. After all, why would an average listener bother seek out new and interesting podcasts when they have a ‘quality’ directory filled with them right there…?

    I hope you discovered something worthy of a listen or two via Britcaster. 😀

  6. Couple of points from my way of thinking…
    1. Those Sony products wouldn’t tempt me away form an iPod. The first reason being (As far as I can see) neither of those net Walkmans come with MP3 support built in, which means you have to use sonic stage to convert things to ATRAC -this is a big minus for me, SS is worse than iTunes IMO. Secondly, I have to say I’ve not seen a better menu navigation system than that on the iPod -to me it’s so easy to use and clear and fast, anything else would be clunky!

    As for iTunes and podcasts…. it’s still a bit ‘er…’ for me. It’s started me listening to podcasts alright (especially ‘Whack My Bush’ and the Engadget Podcast) But I do find their implementation weird. If they’re taking the RSS feeds, the updates to episodes should be pretty much instant, but I’ve found it takes a couple days to get the engadget one up on iTunes, even tho it’s on Engadgets site. Maybe it’s because I’m looking wrong, but it is annoying, tho overall, I’m happy with it, as I can have one app for all my music and podcasting needs. It’s not prefect, but I doubt perfection exists 🙂

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