The Popularity of Podcasting

By: Steven Wright
Podcasting continues to grow in popularity, from its early days to today. And there's good reason for it, as the medium has become an effective way for companies to communicate with their customers and for individuals to express their creativity. The word about podcasting rapidly spread through the popular blogs of former MTV Veejay Adam Curry and other early podcasters and listeners.

Here's an interesting fact: the blogger Doc Searls searched for how many hits Google found for the term "podcasts" on September 28, 2004. On that day, the result was 24 hits. On September 30, there were 526 hits. Then, just three days later, Google found more than 2,750. Every few days the number doubled, passing 100,000 hits by October 18 of the same year. Just one year later, Google found more than 100,000,000 hits for "podcasts."

Only since 2004 has it been possible to find other podcasts via specified search engines.

Tracking early distribution and variety of podcasts was more difficult than just tallying Google hits. In November 2004, podcasting networks started to appear on the scene with podcasters affiliating with one another. The first was the GodCast Network, followed by the Tech Podcasts Network, the Association of Music Podcasters and others.

The following year, podcasts made their way in to politics. Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards became the first national-level US politician to hold his own podcast during the election season. Within a few episodes, the show had all the features of a major podcast: a web site with subscription feeds,show notes, guest appearances by major celebrities, questions from the listening audience, reviews and discussion of books, musical interludes of podsafe (noninfringing) songs, light banter (sports and recreation talk), even limited soundseeing from his travels across the country. Later in the summer of 2005, George W. Bush became a podcaster of sorts, when the White House website added an RSS 2.0 feed to the previously downloadable files of the president's weekly radio addresses.

By mid-2005, the medium had acquired backlash. Some experienced Internet users declared podcasting to be either a variant of blogs and mp3s, or already past its peak because of growing exposure, and/or adoption by unsavvy Internet users.

Apple, however, staked its claim on podcasts by adding podcasting to its free music software and building a directory of podcasts at its iTunes Music Store. The new iTunes could subscribe to, download and organize podcastsFree Reprint Articles, which made a separate aggregator application unnecessary for many users.

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