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iPodder 2.0 Release Elevates Podcasting

The nascent market of podcasting got a boost this week with the latest release of iPodder 2.0.

The new version of the popular podcasting client sports a slicker look among its long list of feature improvements, which developers argue is proof positive that podcasting technology is now mature and ready to be taken seriously.

Podcasting, a term derived from Apple's iPod, makes use of RSS enclosures to allow users to listen and subscribe to audio content much the same way they can with a text blog. The technology can be played on any MP3-capable device.

IPodder is an open source application licensed under the GPL , written in the open source Python language and available for the Windows, OS X and Linux operating systems. It allows users to "tune-in" to podcasts and listen, as well as save the audio programs to their computers or media devices.

According to its developers, it has been downloaded more than 125,000 times since August.

The iPodder 2.0 client includes a redefined user interface, as well as a new streamline podcast feed subscription process. Older downloads can now also be removed easily with the new quick cleanup functionality.

Version 2.0 also enables users to resume downloads and perform threaded downloads, as well as scans. The new version also supports new importing and exporting capabilities via the XML-based OPML (outline processor markup language).

"The most notable aspect is that it's improved from humble AppleScript origins to a full-featured, cross-platform GUI app," iPodder core developer Andrew Grumet told internetnews.com. "It's nice looking and has the kind of features that users have come to expect, such as a rich set of preferences settings and power-user stuff like keyboard shortcuts."

The podcasting community that barely existed when the first version was released last year has grown dramatically over the last six months.

Podcasting pioneer Adam Curry's iPodder.org directory site currently actively tracks 4,123 feeds. Among those sites is OpenPodcast.com, which offers people the opportunity to contribute content to a dynamically generated podcast. The concept, according to its Web site, is along the lines of a "time-shifted, un-moderated call-in show."

"I think the release of iPodder 2.0 demonstrates the excitement and goodwill that abounds in the podcasting community," OpenPodcast.com founder Ben Tucker told internetnews.com. "iPodder has been a strictly volunteer effort from the beginning. That the developers were able to produce a solid and complete product so quickly and for the sole purpose of improving podcasting is admirable."

Though podcasting for the most part is not monetized, that's not to say it doesn't lack the potential to be a disruptive force.

Among those that believe in the market potential of podcasting is MessageCast, a Redwood City, Calif.-based company.

"Podcasting is for real. The migration to time-shifted media is here to stay -- try and take a Tivo away from someone who has been using it for a while," Dave Hodson, MessageCast CTO, told internetnews.com. "Podcasting represents a movement away from traditional mass-media and towards a more niche-oriented, smaller media world."

MessageCast's LiveMessage alerting service lets users know when a new podcast is available and alerts them via any number of different mechanisms, including e-mail, IM and RSS. The plan is to allow advertisers to place contextual ads in those alerts.

The iPodder core development team also recognizes some of the commercial aspects of its application and have already had some interest in that direction from businesses.

"We're getting a lot of interest in offering branded versions of the application," Grumet said. "These are businesses and organizations that would like to offer the application with custom logos and default subscriptions, for download from their own site."

"We've begun to add support for this, and will be continuing to build this capability out," Grumet added.