Podcasting Growth by Subscribers

Post ImageBlogging is a pretty open, flexible medium and each blog varies greatly from the next, but if there’s one thing that holds true (usually) it’s that some of the best insights are found in the comments. I was reminded of this today when reading Frank Barnako’s post about the latest podcasting stats from FeedBurner:

Rick Klau, vice president, business development, said that at the beginning of the year Feedburner had 1 million subscriptions to podcasts it helped deliver. That number has now grown to 5 million subscribers for 71,000 podcasts. For you math fans, that means the average podcast has … ta da!!! … 70 subscribers.

That stat is interesting all by itself, but when Rick Klau himself dropped by and left a comment, it became really interesting. Here’s what Rick had to say:

I hadn’t realized it (I never do the average thing – must be my life-long aversion to math), but now that you point it out: this average number has doubled in just the last six months.

Indeed it’s right in the headline for the previous article that Rick linked to, in April of this year FeedBurner said the average podcast had 35 subscribers.

I think this is an important statistic to keep track of. Usually when trying to measure the growth of podcasting, you might look to the number of podcasts or the number of episodes created in a given period of time. But just as important is the number of people listening to or watching those podcasts and episodes.

That said, the rate of new podcasts appears to be increasing as well. In the April article, FeedBurner was adding an average of 2278 new podcasts each month (based on the numbers provided). That number has since risen to 4000. Not bad at all!

Read: Frank Barnako

MasterMaq's Podcast: The Sickness Episode

Post ImageI wouldn’t call it “episode 1” or anything, but here’s a quick little episode I recorded tonight for my podcast, powered of course by Podcast Spot. Basically I talk a little about the cold I picked up at the Expo, the drug I am using to get rid of it (Cold-FX), the outbreak at Lister Hall on the UofA campus, and my favorite, Purell.

Downloads, show notes, and much more can be found on the episode page.

For those of you interested in such things, I used the following to record this episode: Samson C03 microphone, Behringer Eurorack UB802 (connected to Audigy sound card), and Adobe Audition.

Read: The Sickness Episode

Samson H4 Handy Recorder

Post ImageWhile at the Portable Media Expo this past weekend, we head the pleasure of being neighbours with the guys from Samson. They make audio equipment, if you’ve never heard of them. In fact, my best microphone is a Samson C03 (they have a USB version now…mine is the original XLR). This weekend they were showing off their latest gadget, the H4 Handy Recorder:

The Zoom H4 Handy Digital Recorder fits in your palm and is ideal for recording live musical performances, interviews, podcasts, meetings, classes and seminars. The H4 allows you to record 24-bit/96 kHz digital audio as well as in MP3 format with bitrates up to 320kbps.

I really wish I had one of these things back when I was doing BlogosphereRadio. Would have made life so much easier. Some of the features include:

  • Two studio quality X/Y pattern condenser microphones for true stereo recording
  • Two combination XLR-1/4-inch input jacks with phantom power
  • Four hours of continuous recording operation from 2 AA batteries
  • 128MB Secure Digital (SD) card included.

And there’s a bunch more too. The combination input jacks are a great idea. When I saw them, I was like “why didn’t anyone else think of that!”

Maybe I don’t want a Zune for Christmas after all?

Read: Samson H4

2006 Portable Media Expo Recap

Now that I am back in Edmonton and feeling a little better, time for a bit of a recap. Dickson has posted his closing thoughts on the expo as well. It’s hard to compare last year’s event with this year’s. In some ways, there seemed to be more people this year, such as on Friday, but Saturday told a different story. One thing is for sure – there were far less “I’ve never heard of podcasting” people in attendance this year.

  • I have to agree with Dickson, the weather in Ontario was really hot. It mattered less on Saturday when I had a bad case of the chills, but still.
  • I am amazed that I met people who were happy to “do it on their own” when it came to podcast hosting. Perhaps this is because podcasting is so new? Heck, I don’t even host my own photo gallery anymore. Why not? Because Flickr does it better than I ever could. I offload all the work to them. That’s what we are trying to do with Podcast Spot too. You as the podcaster can focus on creating great content, because we take care of the rest.
  • Speaking of pictures, you can see the ones I took here.
  • I think we’re going to have to do something more interesting with the booth next year. Our “low-key, low-information-on-the-wall” style worked to an extent, but I think we can do better.
  • We need to do a better job explaining how we charge. We charge based on upload, which is the amount of stuff you send to our servers in any given month. This is in contrast to charging by storage, which is the amount of stuff you have put on the servers since you became a customer. If we charged by storage, you’d eventually hit a limit, after which you wouldn’t be able to add anything new without first removing something old. Fortunately for you, we charge by upload so you never run out of space!
  • I just re-read that, and perhaps it still isn’t clear. I’ll record something soon that should explain it a little better. Visuals always help!
  • Generally speaking, I have the feeling that the Expo is missing something that would take it to the next level. What that something is, I don’t know. I do have a small wish-list though: wireless Internet throughout the convention center, expanded awards (say a “best podcast hosting service”), and more free food/drinks!

Thanks to Tim and the rest of the team at TNC New Media for another great Expo! I’m looking forward to next year already 🙂

Podcast Spot is LIVE!

Post ImageI don’t even know what to say – I’ve been wanting to make this post for so long! Okay, Podcast Spot is now live and ready for you to use. And you’ll note we’re not in beta either; we are not hiding behind a label. You shouldn’t run into any problems on the site, but if you do, let us know. And please send us your feedback too!

For those of you that don’t know, Podcast Spot is a hosting service for podcasters. We’ve been working on it for about two years now. Actually, exactly two years ago last Thursday was when I launched BlogosphereRadio, my first foray into podcasting. You can say that Podcast Spot grew out of that project – I realized that podcasting could be somewhat difficult, and took far too much time and effort. Dickson and I realized we could make things easier, and thus, we set about creating what eventually became Podcast Spot. And while the code might have changed quite a bit in the last two years, our goals have always been the same:

  • To make becoming a podcaster and enjoying podcasts easier and more enjoyable
  • To eliminate the need for technical knowledge, and reduce the amount of time required
  • To empower podcasters and their audience with features designed specifically for podcasting

I’m proud to say that Podcast Spot is a big first step towards accomplishing these goals. That said, it’s just the first step, and there’s still a long way to go. We’re eager and excited to continue improving the podcasting experience, with Podcast Spot and other products too.

Dickson and I recorded a quick little introduction message earlier this evening, which you can listen to at Podcast Spot. Even if you don’t want to be a podcaster, I encourage to check the site out! If you have comments or feedback, we’d love to hear from you. You can leave a comment on one of our blogs, post to our forums, or email us. And if you’re going to be at the Portable Media Expo later this week, come see us in booth #408!

Read: Podcast Spot

Wired News gets Odeo all wrong

Post ImageI think the staff at Wired News must have missed the memo about Odeo. In a list of Web 2.0 Winners and Losers published today, they included Odeo on the winners list. They praised the service, saying that Odeo “breezed in and de-mystified the podcast.” Huh, is that really what happened?

Not according to Odeo co-founder Evan Williams, who when giving a talk last week said Odeo failed for five main reasons:

  • “Trying to build too much”
  • “Not building for people like ourselves”
  • “Not adjusting fast enough”
  • “Raising too much money too early”
  • “Not listening to my gut”

De-mystified the podcast? That would explain why the vast majority of the population doesn’t know what a podcast is. They certainly know what MySpace or YouTube is though, yet MySpace appears on Wired’s losers list.

In some ways, the list that was voted on by Wired News readers is much more accurate – Odeo doesn’t appear on either list. This is the wisdom of the crowd at work! I don’t think they can be described as winners or losers yet, because Odeo seems to be finding their way still. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, to wait and see if they can turn it around.

The funniest part of the Wired article is this:

In the interest of brevity, I’ve chosen five sites from each category. The web services industry certainly has more than five winners and five losers, so we’ve only highlighted the exemplars.

I’m not exactly sure what reporter Michael Calore considers the definition of “exemplary” to be, but I am quite certain it’s different from my definition. And probably different than the dictionary’s definition too. The first five that came to mind for me certainly didn’t include Writely or Odeo (mine would be Flickr, del.icio.us, YouTube, MySpace, and digg).

Read: Wired News

Podcasting Professor Has Website Suspended

Post ImagePodcasting and education – I think it’s only a matter of time, once the issues that make educational institutions uneasy are worked out. And to be sure, educators are already experimenting with podcasting, like communication and technology professor Robert Schrag. The problem is that he decided to charge for his podcasts, and NC State University didn’t like that too much (via Podcasting News):

Schrag had made his lectures available to students and the general public online for a fee of $2.50. The University questioned whether this practice was ethical, referring to the inconsistencies in opinion concerning intellectual property and decided to ask Schrag to suspend the Web site until copyright-issue clarifications could be made.

Besides wanting to make a small profit, I don’t know why Schrag was charging for his podcast. I highly doubt he gave the money to the university to cover his (probably very small) bandwidth costs. Interestingly enough, when he asked his class about the situation, only four of them said the podcasts should be free, and no one said the site should have been taken down.

This situation brings up a bunch of questions. As a paying student, is recording what the professor says for my own consumption any different than frantically trying to write everything down? Does the university own the content that the professor delivers, or does the professor himself/herself retain ownership? Why should I as a student have to pay extra to get an audio file of the lecture?

And perhaps most important of all, is podcasting just something universities need to embrace in order to keep up with the times? I think it might be, kind of like replacing blackboards with whiteboards or overhead projectors with digital projectors and computers. Schrag has the right idea:

“I’m not sorry I made the choice and I hope I can get back to giving the information,” Schrag said.

After all, isn’t the primary function of a university to disseminate information? We call it teaching or learning, but really, a university is just a fancy way to spread information and knowledge to the population. Podcasting then should be viewed by universities as just another tool to help them spread information.

Read: Technician Online

Apple Podcasting Site Broken!

Post ImageThe new nanos are great, Apple still rules digitial music with the iPod and all that, but they’ve broken podcasting. Well, they’ve broken their own podcasting site anyway. I went to look at the iTunes Podcasting spec, and noticed that the page can no longer be found! Seems the redesign for the new stuff broke the website. Well done Apple!

And it’s a shame too, because http://www.apple.com/podcasting was such a nice URL, wouldn’t you say?

A search for podcasting on the support site only gives the Podcasting FAQ. And the link on that page to the podcasting page remains broken. Fortunately, Google comes to the rescue. You can see cached versions of the podcasting page and the tech specs.

Maybe they are going to be updating the spec?

How can a company use podcasting?

Post ImageI came across this post from Karl Long today, titled “Uncommon Uses: Podcasting” in which he suggests some interesting ways that podcasting might be used. The basic idea is that we tend to use new technologies in similar ways as the old ones (using a podcast like a radio or TV show) because it seems natural, but that there are far more creative ways to take advantage of the new tech.

Karl focused mainly on individual scenarios, like learning a language or taking an audio tour, so I thought it would be interesting to come up with some company-focused ideas:

  • The most obvious use is public relations…audio-visual press releases!
  • Replacing a conference call with a podcast (IBM has already done this, for example)
  • And a related item…use a weekly podcast to cut down the number of emails that are sent, by summarizing the important things in audio form
  • Keeping your customers up-to-date on new product releases
  • Setup a podcast (or ability to track podcasts) so that potential job candidates could post audio-visual resumes
  • Keeping project members up-to-date on recent developments
  • Company training materials could be turned into podcasts, with the idea that all employees subscribe and information is added and updated over time
  • Certain meetings could be podcasted, like an AGM or shareholder’s meeting
  • In larger companies, new employees could be required to add an “introduction” to the internal “new hires” podcast – great way for people to find out about “the new guy/gal”
  • In a company like Google, employees could post a “pitch” for an idea they came up with or project they have in mind to an internal podcast

You’re limited only by your creativity! Any scenario in which information might be distributed over time is probably a good candidate for podcasting. Can you think of any other ways?

Will Zune Actually PodCatch?

Post ImageThat’s the question Paul Colligan asked in his latest post at Zune Luv, and it appears the answer is yes. Well, at least it looks more likely to be a yes than a no. He says:

Fact: Yesterday, September 10, 2006, Microsoft Zune(firmware 0.9 beta) hit 200+ Podcast feeds.

Where do I get this stat? Rick Klau, VP Business Development at Feedburner.

And yes, I have permission to quote him.

This still isn’t proof, but it’s a heck of a lot better than nothing. I mean if the Zune has wifi, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a podcatcher too! I guess we’ll find out soon enough (November 14th).

Read: Zune Luv?