A recent Information Week article asks the question – Is podcasting dead?. The article cites that “there is no easy way to sample podcasts without an excessive and irretrievable investment of time” as the reason that podcasting hasn’t taken off.
Lets look at the numbers to see if podcasting is indeed dying a death. eMarketer estimates that the total US audience for podcasts reached 18.5 million in 2007 and is expected to grow by 251% by 2012. These statistics hardly reflect the death throes of a dying medium but the growth rate isn’t exactly stellar if you compare it to other web 2.0 technologies.
The reason for its slow adoption rate is indeed, as Alexander Wolfe of Information Week suggests, a result of podcast complexity. And this doesn’t only apply to users.
Creating and publishing a podcast is not as seamless or as simple as it should be either. If you’ve read any of my new experiences in podcasting posts you will know of my own frustrations with the technology and I am relatively tech savvy. It seems to me that if you want to podcast you have to be a true propeller head. At this point that is podcasting’s main barrier to entry.
iTunes has tried to streamline the podcast publishing process but even using Garageband to create a podcast on a Mac doesn’t guarantee simple podcast submission.
On the bright side for podcasting, more and more traditional media outlets are using the technology to disseminate audio so that users can listen on the run and users are recognizing the benefits of being able to listen on their terms (coincidentally, one of my first ever blog posts back in 2005 touched on this). Global TV in Vancouver offers video and audio podcasts of its news content.
Podcasting is not dead but its not exactly burgeoning either. As podcasting is promoted more to the mainstream it will become more prevalent (it is slowly gaining popularity, especially in the 35-54 age group) but until producers can create and publish podcasts efficiently and users can access them as easily as turning on the radio, podcasting growth with remain slow.