Podcasting Research from Forrester

Post ImageNo disrespect to Peter Chen or the Diffusion Group or anyone else that has done podcasting research thus far, but I was pleased to see a research report from Forrester. Finally something from a widely respected and referenced research group. Also refreshing is the fact that the report doesn’t make podcasting out to be an amazingly fast growing technology (though it is growing pretty quickly and will probably grow faster over the next couple years). In the new report, titled “Podcasting Hits The Charts“, Forrester shows that only 1% of North American households regularly download and listen to podcasts:

Podcasting will get easier and the content will get better, but it will all take time.

So should companies be putting podcasting on the backburner? Hardly. Content that already exists – such as earning calls, training updates, and executive presentations are all excellent fodder for podcasts. Think of us poor analysts who must listen to streamed quarterly calls while chained to our laptops! My caution is that companies shouldn’t be dashing out to create expensive original content for a small audience – unless they gain value from being seen as innovative.

That first sentence is incredibly important, I think. Podcasting still isn’t easy enough for most people! And yes, these things take time, but hopefully we can help solve that problem in a couple months. The goal of our podcasting solution is to first of all make it easy.

The second bit of stuff I quoted there is important too. We’re doing a lot of our own research on the business sector of podcasting right now, and we really agree – there’s a huge market. Podcasting is an excellent way to solve some communication problems that have always existed.

Read: Charlene Li

Podcasters Across Borders

Post ImageThere are so many podcasting events taking place now, which is a good sign of the buzz level surrounding the technology. The latest one I have run across is called Podcasters Across Borders, taking place on June 23rd and 24th in Kingston, Ontario. There isn’t too much information on the event yet, so stay tuned to their blog if you’re interested in going. They also have a details page with a little more information.

I think we’ll start to see more and more targeted podcasting events appear. I have a feeling that there can only be so many “general purpose” podcasting events, and with the Portable Media Expo, Podcastercon, and other conferences like Gnomedex or Northern Voice, I’m willing to bet that we’re getting close to reaching the limit. So if you’re a conference organizer looking for a great topic related to podcasting, let me suggest one! I’d love to go to a conference about business podcasting. How are businesses using podcasting? How could they use it? That sort of thing.

Notes on Podcasting & Video Blogging

Post ImageLunch is a meal I generally skip, so I got to spend some time talking to Robert Sanzalone during the break. He’s presenting a session on podcasting and video blogging – here are some notes:

  • Robert says podcasting kind of came from Apple…I disagree, but I see where he’s going with it. Apple has the iPod and rolled in support to iTunes, so they give the impression of being the first.
  • Blogger is a great tool to get people blogging – all you have to do is link an MP3 file. I suppose in the most simple terms, sure, but there’s more to that. You need the enclosure tag.
  • Robert suggests using Audacity for recording and editing, some other audience members suggest using GarageBand if you’re on a Mac.
  • Sounds like Robert likes video – he has used MovieMaker and says it works quite well. He suggests that if you have a digital camera with video capabilities, you can produce videos. I suppose…but the quality there is not so good.
  • Who is your audience? Robert says that’s a problem with the “tech” community, they don’t always consider the wider audience.
  • A video tool/service he likes is vimeo.
  • Another service he likes is YouTube, because it transcodes the video for you. In a way I suppose, but it’s not like you can download the video. A service that does have downloading is Revver – looks like they transcode everything to MOV format.
  • Robert says a service that does some more of the pieces is blip.tv. You can connect it with Flickr too. It still stays in the format you upload it in though.
  • The service that does the best job, according to Robert, is Dailymotion.
  • If Flickr does video, none of the other services will matter – is the general feeling it seems.

Lots to think about with video, I still don’t think we’re ready for it.

Big Earl 96.3

If you’re scanning the radio dial here in Edmonton, you’ll notice we have a new station. Or, more accurately, an existing station that has for the thousandth time changed formats. What was known most recently as 96X is now Big Earl, who apparently “plays everything country.” There are some really great posts in their forums, like this one:

I wonder how many of these loyal 96X listeners would convert to listening to country if they gave it more than 10 minutes of listening. I personally know of two people who HATED country music until they listened to it and then it became all they listened to!

I think a lot of people would be surprised if they actually gave country music half a chance.

And of course there are some not so good posts, like this one:

YOU HAVE SERIOUS ISSUES SO GO TO A COUNCELOR YOU SUPPOSEDLY DONT CARE WHAT PEOPLE SAY SO I GUESS YOU WONT CARE ABOUT THIS……………GET A LIFE AND DONT WORRY BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL NEVER LISTEN TO YOUR STATION BECAUSE YOU MADE IT AND BECAUSE YOU SUCK SO IF YOU REALLY ARE SMART…….YOU WILL CHANGE IT BACK

With this reply:

I HATE U STUPID BIG EARL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To be truly honest, I really don’t care. I almost exclusively listen to music or podcasts on my Zen Touch in the car now anyway, and if I do happen to listen to the radio it’s to either The Bear or Joe FM (yeah I have come to like Joe FM). That being said, it’s always fun to throw out my two cents.

I think what happened is that The Bounce and Sonic started to take away listeners from 96X, so they “did some research” as their program manager said on the 6 O’Clock news tonight (must have been a slow news day) and decided country would be the way to go. The format is actually a copy of a Big Earl station that launched in Camrose last month, and that one is probably a copy of another station. In my opinion, Big Earl is doomed to failure. We already have a very successful country station in CISN, and unlike 96.3, they don’t change their format every year destroying any sort of listener base they might have managed to accumulate.

Futhermore, we already have the “play anything” format in Joe FM, so will a subset of that be successful? I guess we’ll find out, but I doubt it. The only thing that’s for sure is that being a program manager at 96.3 must suck.

UPDATE: My mistake, there are two country stations in Edmonton – CISN and CFCW. Also, looks like both 96X and The Bounce lost listeners in the Fall 2005 ratings while CISN and CFCW gained listeners. You can see the ratings here. Oh and the official website for Big Earl is http://www.bigearlonline.com. While we’re on the topic of new radio stations, did you know that MAGIC 99, a Smooth Jazz/Adult Standards station launched on Thursday? Check it out at 99.3 or online at http://www.magic99.ca.

UPDATE 2: Found a better ratings page complete with descriptions and commentary.

UPDATE 3 (3/28/2008): The station has changed once again, to Capital FM! You can read about it here.

Podcasting and Model Airplanes

Post ImageI have written quite a bit about what I call “Average Joe Podcasting“, or podcasting for normal people who don’t want to turn it into a business. I have also mentioned that I think the most common form of podcasting will indeed be this kind of hobby podcasting, not radio-style business podcasting. Unfortunately, it seems rare that someone else understands this, but today I found another person who does:

Rob Walch, a podcasting consultant and host of the popular 411 interview podcast, says he’s bombarded with questions from people looking to strike gold with podcasts. His advice? “I tell people that over 80% of podcasters will never even break even,” he says. “This is a hobby. You don’t expect to make money from flying model airplanes, and chances are you aren’t going to make money from podcasting.” Still, for trailblazers like Curry who are quickly forging links to one another, it won’t be for a lack of trying.

Well said, and in a way that I think a lot of people will be able to understand. Not that it’s bad for people like Curry to try and make some money from it, every industry needs that, I just feel that it won’t overshadow the rest of podcasting for very much longer.

Read: BusinessWeek

The Podcast Network

Post ImageIt has been a while since I last looked at The Podcast Network, but I was quite impressed when I did wander over to the site today. They recently relaunched the site, and gave it a much needed makeover. Seriously, the old site was just terrible. I like the new layout, colors, and logo.

The site has some interesting new features too! There are tags on the front page, a news section, and a list of the latest shows. I really like the number of shows they have – shows great progress. I don’t think the network has evolved enough to meet a fate similar to Weblogs.com (which was recently purchased by AOL), but I do think they are on the right track. I’m going to have to check out some of the new shows – The Guy Parenting Show looks interesting for instance (and it’s such a specific market, they must do well on the advertising).

With the recent podcast directory craze going on, it’s interesting to see a project like The Podcast Network take a different route.

Read: The Podcast Network

Podcasting to benefit from MP3 player growth

Post ImageI came across an article on CNET News.com today which cites an IDC report and proclaims that shipments of MP3 players are expected to hit 124 million units in 2009. That’s an incredible 370 percent increase from the 26.4 million units that were shipped worldwide last year. Podcasting is surely going to benefit from the surge in mobile devices, and it may become an even richer experience too:

The report also explored the revenue potential of three other portable devices that play back compressed audio: DVD players, mobile phones such as the Motorola Rokr and gaming devices such as Sony’s PSP. This category of “other” portable play-back devices is expected to exceed 700 million units shipped with an estimated $114 billion in revenue in 2009, IDC said.

Combined with the MP3 player category, all compressed audio players are expected to reach 945.5 million units shipped and $145.4 billion in revenue worldwide by 2009.

Combined with new devices that also support video, such as the new video iPod, the potential market for both audio and video podcasting is huge. I don’t know the numbers, but I would expect a large majority of podcasts today are simply played on the computer, not on a mobile device. As more people acquire these devices, and as the devices themselves become easier to use and update (like wireless transfers of audio files, support in all major automobiles) I think that trend will change. More and more people will listen on the go. The main potential problem that I would predict is poor battery life – it needs to drastically improve from where we are today.

It will be exciting to watch podcasting grow in the coming years! So far 2005 has been a big year for podcasting, but I am certain the best is yet to come.

Read: CNET News.com

Fuel cell powered MP3 player

Post ImageI like to think that my Zen Touch has a pretty damn good battery life, at least when compared to other audio players like the iPod. Not as good as the new fuel cell powered MP3 player that Toshiba has developed though:

Toshiba, who wears the belt for world’s smallest methanol fuel cell, has now developed two fuel-cell powered MP3 player prototypes. A flash-based player measuring 1.4 x 4.3 x 0.8-inches is said to run for 35 hours on a single 3.5ml charge of highly concentrated methanol while a hard drive based player swells to 2.6 x 4.9 x 1.1-inches and runs for about 60 hours on a single 10ml charge. Those dimensions are pretty sweet (the 60GB ipod is 2.4 x 4.1 x .75 inches by comparison) and will certainly get smaller once optimized for production.

That’s pretty crazy, no?! Though I am not sure if storing methanol would be that much better than just plugging the player into the wall every now and then,

Read: Engadget

UAlberta Podcasting?

Post ImageDoes anyone know of any podcasting projects taking place at the University of Alberta? If you do, leave me a comment or drop me an email or something. So far the only “podcast” I have found was created by the Libraries:

iPod Walking Tour – Main Floor Services
This is an audio tour. Please download the file to your iPod (or any other mp3 player), and then come and explore the Main Floor of Cameron Library.

You can get to the mp3 file (which comes in both English and Mandarin -language versions) at http://www.library.ualberta.ca/podcasting/. While this technically is not a podcast (as there is no RSS feed to subscribe to), it’s a step in the right direction, and the URL is clearly indicative of more content in the future. And it should be noted that the Libraries provide a number of other RSS feeds already.

Shure E3c Earphones

Post ImageWhen my dad stopped by on Sunday, he dropped a few things off. One of those things was a brand new pair of Shure’s E3c Sound Isolating Earphones. I have to say, they are without a doubt, the best set of earphones I have ever used.

Originally developed for professional musicians, the E3c combines WideBand MicroDriver technology with a sound isolating design to deliver rich, detailed sound with improved high end while blocking outside noise — ideal for optimizing your listening experience with portable MP3, DVD, and CD players as well as all other audio sources.

Usually with headphones or earphones I end up either just stuffing them into my bag, or wrapping them around my device. These E3c earphones are wicked though, as they come with their own little carrying case and a bunch of different “sleeves”, so that you can find the one that feels best in your ear.

The earphones are very light too, so they are comfortable to wear. It took me a moment to figure out how to put them on, but once I did, I realized the design is actually quite clever! As you can see in the picture, they kinda wrap around your ear.

If you’re in the market for some new earphones, definitely check these out. Awesome sound quality, and very comfy to wear!

Read: Shure