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Podcasting: One Small Step for Technology, One Giant Leap for Personalized Audio

In some respects podcasting seems like a step in the wrong direction. There are so many ways to receive sophisticated content now that the idea of downloading short audio files to an audio player seems almost quaint. And streamed content often comes with transcripts since visitors have indicated they would rather read—or quickly skim—the text than watch and listen to the full file. That said, podcasting has taken off like a rocket and the astounding success of MP3 players has shown the world that consumers demand personalized audio.

Will Podcast for Food
Podcasting's golden boy is former MTV veejay and teen hearthrob Adam Curry. He developed the iPodder [link to: www.ipodder.org] script, which was later finessed and polished by Dave Winer. iPodder downloads audio files to MP3 players including iPods and any Windows Media Player-supported device. Curry is about to release , PodShow.com which seeks to make a viable business out of podcasting and targets advertisers, podcasters, and listeners with specific messages regarding what podcasting can offer them. Although the venture is still relatively hush-hush, it’s set to launch later this year and has already sparked serious discussion in the industry.

Myriad other podcast clients, aggregators, and products are available, including the Primetime Podcast Receiver, Bradbury Software's FeedDemon, and yet another double top-secret endeavor called Odeo.

Odeo is helmed by Noah Glass (of AudBlog and Evan Williams (founder of Blogger.com, and their company has received a great deal of press following a preview by Williams in March. While the industry was excited by screenshots of the service that made it online, Williams felt that the press focused too much on the business and not enough on Odeo's efforts to enable people to publish to the Web. "Our focus is on humanizing a very promising technology," Williams explains on the Odeo blog, "making it easier for those already doing it (listening or creating), and getting many more people involved by creating a great experience. If we do it right, maybe money will come—to us and others. If not, someone else will do it. I'm pretty confident it will be good for the democratization of media either way."

Beyond Podcasting
In an effort to commercialize podcasting further, Guerrilla Marketing International and Jackstreet Media have announced a five-city tour to promote the business of podcasting and delve into the issue of "nanocasting," which Guerrilla Marketing describes as commercial podcasting aimed at those outside of the iPodder world. According to Jay Conrad Levinson, founder of the Guerrilla Marketing concept, "Nanocasting refers to the programming produced for the smallest, most narrowly but clearly defined target audience. This is the audience that is most interested in the type of programming and from a marketing standpoint, the audience that is most likely to buy related products." Admission to one of the tour stops runs a hefty $3,997, indicating Guerrilla Marketing’s effort to be recognized as both influential and upscale.

Another relatively new venture is video podcasting, already dubbed vidcasting, which allows users to view content on mobile phones, handheld video players, and video-enabled iPods, should they ever hit the market. The waters get muddy when trying to differentiate between video podcasting and video blogging, which at the end of the day seem to be same thing save for some potential differences in delivery.

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