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View Thread: What should Microsoft do with podcasting/wikis/blogs/videoblogs?
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    irascian

    Oops! I just posted my whole reaction to that post over in the Windows Media Player 11 thread. I'll repeat it here:

    Well I guess since Scoble is asking for comments over on his blog (got to admire the way he tries to get more people involved over here) I'd like to say "podcasting".

    I am one of those who think podcasting is a fad, and given my recent comments about how absurd I found Curry's over the top evangelism at his Gnomedex keynote this may seem a rather odd request. I use podcasts on my commute (to pass the time, hopefully usefully) but frankly the quality of most of the podcasts is so toe-curlingly awful (does anybody other than their parents actually listen to or enjoy 'The Dawn and Drew Show'?) I can't see it catching on in the mainstream.

    But the new version of iTunes has changed my opinion a little on the way podcasting could move more into the mainstream. When podcasting gets as easy as clicking a subscribe button and having it automatically transferred to my iPod at sync time it opens up to a wider audience.

    I'd like the same on my Pocket PC please, but with video and ESPECIALLY webcasts too please Microsoft! You put a ton of these things out every week but it's too damned difficult to watch them "on the commute". The stumbling block is that Microsoft has a hardware problem. Try getting a decent stereo headphone lead for the Pocket PC and it's a nightmare (whole articles have been produced on the web about the nightmare of finding the right lead to fit the proprietary socket on the O2 XDA for instance). That's why iPod is winning hands down and my Pocket PC sits unloved unless I remember to convert a DVD before a long journey, other than to sync up my home and office Outlook schedules. Pocket PC is too fiddly, too much hassle and the source material isn't there. I tried transferring a downloaded webcast once - I only got sound which made no sense since it was referring to pictures I couldn't see. I transferred the "mobile" edition of The Dot Net Show and it was the size of a postage stamp. No fun! Life's too short. Back to the iPod and The Daily Source Code or Dot Net Rocks!

    Will podcasting take off mainstream? Early signs are it's fallen over already because the business model isn't there. I used to download Adam Curry's Daily Source Code whenever available - I think the show has a low signal to noise ratio but I like his (illegal) music mash-ups and Curry has a great voice and style for radio. Today for the first time ever it won't auto-download. Not in FeedDemon. Not in iTunes. Ah, iTunes! COuld the fact that suddenly Mr Curry is featured on the front page of the iTunes Podcast Top 10 which was launched only yesterday have anything to do with these sudden problems. Given his revelation last week that it was costing him 350 dollars a day to host his downloadable show has the popularity of the monster that is Apple finally broken his bandwidth? With no real business plan in place he's screwed. If I keep getting download failures I'll forget his podcast and move on to other things. Like reading the paper. Or a book. Or whatever it was I did when I found the Pocket PC didn't fulfill its potential. And if he adds advertising to try and sort out his business model people will stop listening anyway. Nobody wants to spend their time on a commute listening to bad adverts! There's the flaw in the whole podcasting "phenomenon". 

    DotNet Rocks is probably the only podcast I make a regular point of downloading each week, even without the convenience of hitting a Subscribe button. Why is that? Because it offers something I can't get anywhere else (even with a host who's heart is in the right place but who is toe-curlingly inept at times and has way too much of a 'let's turn this into a love-fest for Microsoft' tone to it). I'd love for that podcast to have more competition - ideally from someone more technically knowledgeable and more challenging but it's unique enough to justify the download despite its obvious flaws. And at least it doesn't sound like a guy on his own thinking out loud for an hour a day, which is what most of the so-called "developer-oriented" podcasts sound like. Professionally-produced (but amateur!) specialist areas is where the "minority" success of Podcasting lies. Not in trying to be hospital radio - we have professional far superior versions of that available on the airwaves already, thank you.

    But Lord you have to sort through a lot of crap to find the few nuggets you might be interested in downloading. Most of the great unwashed public will give up after their first few downloads based on the average quality of the average podcast. Given the immature state of the whole podcasting phenomenon and the constant rallying cries of Curry and co to "do your own podcasting" the signal to noise ratio can only get worse as every Tom, Dick and wannabe Harry rushes to produce their own variation on "thinking out loud". Which is why ultimately it will turn out to be a fad.

    (Trying desperately to get back on topic) But so long as DotNetRocks keeps podcasting stuff that isn't being done better elsewhere I'll still keep downloading it each week. Which is why I'd like podcasting (for iPod AND Pocket PC devices) built into Windows Media Player 11.