Apple Bolsters Podcasting

Apple Computer is currently working to update its iTunes software so it will support increasingly popular podcasts, said Steve Jobs, chairman and chief executive, this weekend. Within a few months, Jobs remarked at the "D3: All Things Digital" technology conference in San Diego, Apple will launch iTunes version 4.9, allowing users to find, download, and subscribe to the uploaded audio feeds with one click.

And while Apple is designing iTunes to traffic in the recorded audio shows, the majority of podcast subscribers already use the ubiquitous iTunes software together with a third-party program to find, download, and transfer the programs to their iPod or MP3 players.

Specifically, Apple will add a defined podcast section to its iTunes Music Store that highlights popular and stand-out podcasts just as the service currently does for music, music videos, and audio book.

Jobs estimated on Sunday that there were some 8,000 podcasts available on the Web, and that Apple plans to create a way for podcasters to submit their work for inclusion on the iTunes Music Store.



The new version of iTunes will work with industry-standard protocols, Jobs said, meaning that users will be able to add any podcast available on the Web.

A recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 29 percent of the 22 million-plus adult MP3 owners in the United States have downloaded podcasts from the Web.

The report found an age gap among podcasters, but no gender-related gap. Nearly half of those between the ages of 18 and 28 who own an MP3 player report downloading podcasts, compared to about one in five of owners of the devices over age 29.

In addition, a Forrester Research report released at approximately the same time foresees significant growth in podcasting adoption through 2010, estimating it will reach 12.3 million U.S. households.

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