Almost a third (32 per cent) of Macworld readers voting in this week's poll already listen to podcasts and another 28 per cent will start to now that iTunes offers them the opportunity, suggesting that with the advent of podcasts in iTunes around 50 per cent of Macworld online readers will be tuning in.
However, a quarter (24 per cent) claim that they are not interested in podcasts, and another 16 per cent don't yet know what they are – although this could be set to change as Apple popularizes the service.For those who aren't sure what a podcast is, it is defined by Wikipedia as: "A method of publishing files via the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files automatically." These files are ususually audio files that can be downloaded onto a portable MP3 player. "It is distinct from other types of online audio delivery because of its subscription model, which uses the RSS 2.0 file format. Podcasting enables independent producers to create self-published, syndicated "radio shows," and gives broadcast radio programs a new distribution channel," runs the definition.
Apple saw iTunes customers subscribe to more than one million podcasts in the two days after the new service launched. Following this news PodShow Podcast Network co-founder Adam Curry said: "Subscriptions have dramatically increased across our entire PodShow Podcast Network, and I predict over the coming months that iTunes will introduce tens of millions of new listeners to the world of Podcasting."
Seven day wonder
Macworld readers writing in the forum are less sure that Podcasting will take off. "I think is will be another seven day wonder," says one, "a way to make of use of a facility of new technology - but nothing new."
Another writes: "I would guess it will be a short term fad - the idea of downloading a radio show to bring with you may seem pretty quaint in the not too distant future."
Other readers are unimpressed by the less-professional podcasts, which account for 50 per cent of Apple's top 100 iTunes customers are subscribing to.
"If I want to listen to someone wittering on about nothing, I can simply take a bus journey and wait for a mobile phone to ring," says one.
Even Steve Jobs described podcasting as the "Wayne's World of radio".
Another reader said: "I listened to a few podcasts - then when I woke up I realised how good they were for insomnia."
iTunes 4.9 lists podcasts and enables users to subscribe so that every time there's a new episode, it's automatically downloaded to the Mac or PC and Auto-Synced to the iPod.