June 28th, 2005 might go down as one of the biggest days in the history of media. It was the day Apple announced they were taking podcasting mainstream by including support for Podcasts in iTunes 4.9 and with syncing to the iPod. As rumors continue to swirl of iTunes being dismantled on macOS (in favor of dedicated apps), I thought it might be fun to take a look back at this important decision.Apple® today announced it is taking Podcasting mainstream by building everything users need to discover, subscribe, manage and listen to Podcasts right into iTunes® 4.9, the latest version of its award winning digital music software and online music store. iTunes users can now easily subscribe to over 3,000 free Podcasts and have each new episode automatically delivered over the Internet to their computer and iPod®. “Apple is taking Podcasting mainstream by building it right into iTunes,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Podcasting is the next generation of radio, and users can now subscribe to over 3,000 free Podcasts and have each new episode automatically delivered over the Internet to their computer and iPod.” The new Podcast Directory in iTunes 4.9 features over 3,000 free audio programs, making it one of the largest Podcast directories in the world, with favorites such as ABC News, Adam Curry, BBC, Clear Channel, The Dawn and Drew Show, Disney, Engadget, ESPN, Newsweek and NPR member stations such as KCRW in Los Angeles and WGBH in Boston.
For podcast fans that have only ever used iPhone apps to download podcasts, you have no idea the lengths we used to go to get our shows. This was also at a time when only a small percentage of homes in the US had broadband (so downloading shows could be time-consuming).
Podcasting wasn’t in my life until 2007, but I don’t think it would have ever been a part of my life if not for Apple doing this. It has become a staple to every aspect of my interests. News, technology, politics, comedy, and everything in between comes from podcasts first and elsewhere a distant second. It is the first thing I listen to after waking up, the only thing I listen to when in the car, and what I listen to when I am in the mood of taking a break from work I am doing (even sometimes during work).
I care deeply about this medium and have for over a decade. I want it to thrive, I want it to continue to be a means for people to express themselves online without having gatekeepers. Apple has made that a possibility because they didn’t make it a place to host podcasts but rather a means to distribute. I still think this was the best call for Apple. Allowing people to own their content in what ever way they want and to then hook it into this directory allows for people to not have to worry about playing in someone else’s backyard.
Apple gave podcasting a platform 13 years ago and kick-started its growth, and for that I couldn’t be more grateful.