Monday, May 23, 2005

Is there a future for standalone podcasting clients?

This should be an exciting and unnerving time for the folks writing podcasting clients. Exciting because there is lots of interest in podcatchers. Unnerving because... there is lots of interest in podcatchers. Steve Jobs has announced that the next version of iTunes will include a podcasting client. Newsgroups are buzzing that Microsoft can't be far behind iTunes.

Is there a standalone future for the Dopplers and the iPodders? No. Here's why: a good podcasting client is like plumbing -- it's only visible to the end user when it screws up. Do you pay your plumber to put in brand name copper pipe? No. You buy a house and you expect it to have adequate pipe. Podcasting clients are going to get absorbed into some other piece of software on user's desktop.

So here's my advice to the folks currently writing podcasting clients: port your podcatcher to FireFox. Earn the praise of your peers and the bragging rights of having contributed to FireFox. Help to create a podcasting client that could be installed on 50 million desktops, doesn't enforce DRM and that accepts audio in any format. The podcasting community will thank you.

Update: Looks like Thunderbird, Mozilla's standalone email client, is scheduled to add podcatching support later this month. Let's see, iTunes, Mozilla, and lots of rumors about a major Microsoft podcasting announcement later this month at Gnomedex. Who else might be interested in playing in this space: Nokia? Palm?

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