Digital Audio World

Musings and information on podcasting, digital audio, online streaming audio and home studio recording from Tim 'Gonzo' Gordon of

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Future of Podcasting

By Tim ‘Gonzo’ Gordon

Anyone who predicts the future of podcasting - or the future of anything - is stepping out on a limb. The simple fact of trying to forecast what might happen invites trouble. What if you’re wrong? What if you’re so far off base that people will end up ridiculing you as time goes on?

Remember when Bill Gates said, “The most memory anyone will ever need is 640K”? See? Ridiculed. Of course he was much younger, and less wiser (and richer) than he is now. He certainly bounced back. But a lot of us remember his prediction that was woefully off base.

So in realizing the dangers inherent in making a podcasting predictions, I spent time recently looking at podcasting and how quickly it has attached itself to the mainstream of life on the internet. Of course, the ‘masses’ haven’t fully adapted to podcasting, or adopted it as a way of listening to online audio. But I think it’s not that far from becoming an everyday part of life for a lot of people.

The explosive growth of the iPod and other MP3 players is the main reason for the burgeoning adaptation of podcasting. It didn’t hurt that Apple quickly upgraded iTunes to be able to subscribe to podcasts.

Now, what about those predictions? I came up with a baker’s dozen plus one (okay, 14). I took a look at various aspects of how podcasting might affect the world, and broke them down into politics, business, the internet, education, and the music business.

In looking at politics, for example, I know that some high-profile politicians have moved into podcasting, most notably John Edwards, who was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004. Various other political entities have moved into podcasting as well, including Governor Schwarzenegger of California, The Republican National Committee and US Senator Debbie Stadenow of Michigan.

And that’s just the beginning.

So my predictions on politics and podcasting:

* Politicians and related political groups will move big time into podcasting for the 2006 mid-term elections, and even more so in the 2008 election. Podcasts will help sway the election of the next US president.
* In the next ten years, a third-party political group such as the Libertarians or the Green Party will emerge to become a party on par with the Democrats and Republicans in size and influence, thanks in large part to the viral spread of ideas through creative podcasting.

With the continuing disenchantment with both Republicans and Democrats, I see the groundswell of the ideas of third parties, in particular the Libertarians, moving more into the mainstream. And podcasting is a great way to spread ideas, explain political stances and interview the ‘stars’ of a movement. So with those two political predictions, podcasting is poised to have a huge impact on the spread of ideas that can influence how people vote.

The politicians who are going to win are going to embrace new technologies such as blogging and podcasting to get out their message and move their constituency to action.

Here are a couple of my predictions regarding the internet:

* Next year’s podcasting star is a person who today doesn't even know what podcasting is.
* Corporate podcasts will be so full of commercials that listeners will rebel and tune out, gravitating back to smaller and more independent podcasts.

With the speed of growth and change in the internet, I believe that in the next year or two one of the top podcasts will be created by a person who today doesn’t even know what a podcast is. But once they discover it, they’ll jump in with both feet and exploit the creativity o the medium to the max.

I also made predictions for business and podcasting: businesses will finally figure out how to make good money by using podcasting as a tool, even though most all podcasts will remain free. I think independent podcasters will become much more organized and figure out ways to sell their ‘podcast time’ to sponsors.

To check the complete list of podcast predictions, check them here:

Here's the press release about the predictions.


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