iLounge recently spoke with iPodderX developer August Trometer on what impact the forthcoming iTunes 4.9 update will have on podcasting. As previously reported, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced iTunes 4.9 at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference, and then later provided further details at this month’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC).
Trometer told iLounge that he was by no means surprised at the announcement. “It was inevitable that Apple would take an interest in podcasting,” he said. “After all, the more uses Apple can find for the iPod, the better for them. So when iTunes 4.9 was announced, I wasn’t too surprised.”
Trometer said that in the long run, it’s great news for both podcasting and for applications like iPodderX. “In much the same way that Safari RSS is introducing a whole new audience to syndicated newsfeeds, I think iTunes 4.9 will do the same for podcasting. But, also like Safari RSS, people will soon tire of the basic feature set and want more capabilities than iTunes offers. These folks will look elsewhere and to other applications for their podcast needs.”
After seeing Jobs give a demo of iTunes 4.9 at WWDC, Trometer said Apple, like always, has come up with a great looking and easy to use solution to a technology many have yet to embrace. “I have to admit, iTunes 4.9 looks slick,” he told iLounge. “I have a feeling that people will get tired of the way it lists their podcasts—disclosure triangles for each feed will get tiresome—but overall it looks like a great introduction to the world of podcasting.”
Trometer said there are, however, a lot of unanswered questions with the new version of iTunes. “Where are the files hosted? Most podcasters have to pay for their bandwidth usage, so an appearance on the iTunes list could spell financial disaster,” he pointed out. “It’s more likely that Apple will host the files. How do they get there? What is the approval process?”
Trometer said iTunes 4.9 also doesn’t appear to support non-iTunes feeds. “It also, from the looks of it, focuses only on audio,” he said. “Now that could change, of course, but there are many Video feeds that are already very popular and will be left out.”
Apple will also begin to charge a download fee for some of the podcasts, Trometer told iLounge, like it already does for songs from the iTunes Music Store. “Some shows will be free, but the more premium content will be paid,” he said. “The independent, do-it-yourself podcaster will most likely get lost in the shuffle as Apple will be able to charge for an ABC show but not ‘Bob’s Comedy Show.’”
Trometer also sees the directory of podcasts included in iTunes 4.9 to be very limited and censored by Apple. “It will never carry edgier, more adult fare,” he said. “Most of the podcasts out there wouldn’t pass FCC regulations or Apple’s approval process, so anyone who limits themselves to the iTunes podcasts will miss out on a lot of really great content. Many people will feel constrained by Apple’s good taste.”