Newsome Research Report: The Sky is Still Blue

Important Newsome.Org Research Report

The blogosphere is all a tither over a new Forrester Research report that says virtually nobody (percentage wise) listens to podcasts. Om says that’s OK because the glass is half full since more people listen to podcasts than use Web 2.0 applications. Look for Om’s new show on the Comedy Channel, because that was Onion funny.

Before gazing up to the sky in preparation for our new research report, those of me at Newsome Research asked a random sampling of the people at our dinner table the other night (3 families worth, with 2 iPod owners among them) if they listened to podcasts. I’ve tried to ask this question before, but people just looked at me blankly for a second or two before going back to whatever relevant conversation I had interrupted.

50% of the iPod owners knew what a podcast was, but none of them had ever listened to one. This is true notwithstanding the fact that one of the attendees (that would be me) does a podcast.

I’m almost 100% certain that, except for a couple of people who listen to my podcasts from their computers so they can tease me about the fact that I do one, no one I know in the real world has ever listened to a podcast. I am exactly 100% certain that no one I know in the real world has ever listed to a podcast on a pod.

Sometimes those of us in the tech blogosphere start believing that anyone other than us cares about the stuff we care about. That is a huge mistake. We are blogging and podcasting for each other. The 5 blog readers without a blog probably have a blog by now. Embrace the truth and it will free you. And all that.

Now back to podcasts.

Om points out correctly that podcasts are still hard to do. Doc Searls and I have talked about that as well. Don Dodge says it’s about user impatience, and I think he’s onto something. That’s why Podzinger will rule the podosphere if it can get word searching to work right.

So why do we do them?

Because we are interested in the technology and because we can. Sure, some people listen to them, but I suspect that most podcasters have little or no interaction with their listeners. You can’t leave a comment or a trackback to a podcast (sure, you can to a post talking about the podcast, but that’s different).

Podcasts are, for me, a supplemental and less interactive addition to my blog. Because I talk about music some, they let me play some of that music for people. I can assure you of one thing- if I didn’t have a blog, there’s no way I would go to all the effort of doing a podcast.

Om has 700 listeners. In podcast numbers (which are something like dog years), that’s like a million. Of course Om is well known as is his co-host Niall Kennedy. If I quit my day job and did nothing but podcast for 15 years, I might end up with half that many listeners. Then, of course, I would decide that podcasting is too hard and stop- making all that effort for naught.

So unlike blogging, where I disagree with those who claim not to care about having readers, I don’t think any sane person who isn’t Om or a near-Om would start podcasting and expect his or her numbers to get far into the triple digits. Podcasters podcast for a hundred different reasons. Ones who want to stay sane don’t do it for the traffic.

I don’t understand who is surprised by this new Forrester Research report. Perhaps the same ones who will be surprised by the latest Newsome Research Report. Tomorrow morning, I’ll look up when I go outside and do an update.