Podcasting goes mainstream
The number of iTunes podcast subscriptions has rocketed to over 1 million and propelled podcasting into the mainstream since the launch of iTunes 4.9.
In the two days since Apple released the latest version of its iTunes software, which included the ability for customers to subscribe to and download podcasts, customers have been flocking to subscribe to their favourite podcasts.
"iTunes has done what possibly no one else could have accomplished, propelled Podcasting into the mainstream," said Will Lewis, management consultant for US radio station KCRW. "Our servers have been swamped with a stratospheric increase in traffic. In fact, downloads have increased tenfold as a result of the iTunes 4.9 launch."
Podcasting has become somewhat of a phenomenon, particularly in the US where figures from Pew Internet and American Life suggest that over 6 million Americans -- almost a third of the estimated 22 million who own MP3 players -- have listened to podcasts.
Simply put, podcasting is subscribing to and downloading audio content, such as radio broadcasts or "audio blogs" onto a digital music player such as an iPod. While the name podcasting suggests the practice refers only to iPods, podcasts can in fact be downloaded to all MP3 players via a computer that is equipped with podcasting software.
Speaking at the US launch of iTunes 4.9 on Tuesday, Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO said, "Apple is taking podcasting mainstream by building it right into iTunes. Podcasting is the next generation of radio."
The software, which is available for Mac and Windows, includes a tab which provides access to a directory of 3,000 pre-selected podcasts, including ABC News, BBC, Disney, ESPN, Newsweek, and NPR member stations such as KCRW in Los Angeles and WGBH in Boston. Users can search, find and subscribe to a range of topics including electronic gadgets, movies and rants from individuals.