While doing last night’s RanchoCast, I thought of an application that would not only bring podcasting to the masses, but would also be very useful for current podcast listeners. I’m going to tell some smart guy or gal somewhere how to put themselves on the Web 2.0 map.
I have said before and I’ll say again, that as long as podcasting is technologically or psychologically tied to iPods and other portable music players, it will never reach the mainstream. Nobody I know, either socially or professionally, uses an iPod or other portable music player. Not one person. A couple of people I know have iPods, but they tell me that after the initial thrill of having one wore off, the iPods got relegated to a drawer somewhere, rarely to see the light of day.
Granted, I’m sure lots of kids and college students have iPods, and if you don’t mind ignoring millions and millions of grownups with lots of disposable cash, then so be it.
But if you want to bring podcasting to the masses, some things are going to have to change.
First, you have to understand that grownups who listen to podcasts generally do not listen on an iPod. We have made some progress integrating computer-listening features into podcasts. The Delicious playtagger supports this (as an aside, am I the only one who noticed that all of the Delicious buzz went stone silent as soon as Yahoo bought it?), as does the new play button in Feedburner feeds.
But there is another place where grownups listen to even more of their music, talk shows and audio books- in the car. Which leads me to my recipe for a killer podcast application.
Want to be famous and actually make some money too? Then create this-
An application, online or local, that allows a user to subscribe to podcasts and organize their subscription lists.
Allow them to listen to the podcasts online or to download them into an iPod.
Here comes the new and important part…
Create an easy to implement way to have selected podcasts automatically burned to a CD-R every week or so, with each podcast to be a separate track. After it is set up, the application would simply prompt the user to insert a CD-R every so often, at which time it would burn that week’s podcasts onto a CD-R that could be listened to in the car.
The application would also create a text document with the track numbers, names, dates and descriptions of the podcasts. That document could be printed and used as a listening reference. Label maker developers could write plug-ins that would allow the automatic printing of jewel case labels or, even better, templates for applications, like my Primera printer, that print on the CD-R itself.
Have the podcast name and date burned on the CD-R as CD Text.
Most car stereos can play MP3’s now, so that would be the default setting- for more capacity. But there would also be an option to burn the CD-R in CDA format so older car stereos could also play it. CD-R’s are almost free these days, so cost is not a factor.
Plus, the CD-R’s would allow the user to create an archive of podcasts and to share good ones with friends.
People would happily pay for this product. And if you wanted to be true to the Web 2.0 mantra and get some of the allegedly infinite ad revenue, you could place ads on the application pages, if it’s an online application, or on the CD-R between the podcasts themselves. Perhaps there would be a cheaper version of the application that has brief ads between the podcasts and a full-priced version that doesn’t.
I realize that you can burn podcasts to CD-R’s now, but it’s simply more trouble than most people are willing to go to for a concept they don’t fully understand or embrace. To get to where the population and the dollars are, you have to make it easy for people to say yes.
Let me say it again, the customers we are trying to sell to are not geeks like us. They want something that is (a) easy, and (b) cool and useful, but in that order. Too many Web 2.0 developers get it backwards. You have to make it easy to say yes, because it will always be easy to say no.
Take podcasting into the cars and trucks of the masses and you’ll see podcasting really take off.
Otherwise it’s just too easy to say no.