Apple’s iPod Shuffle Stifles Podcasting

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s latest iPod may be
winning accolades from music lovers but it is raising eyebrows in the
blogosphere.

When CEO Steve Jobs took the wraps off the flash-memory iPod
shuffle,
a few gasps could be heard from bloggers who post audio
files of their conversations — a practice commonly referred to as
podcasting.

For those new to the concept, podcasting is a version of Webcasting
that first became popular with iPod owners. According to online
encyclopedia Wikipedia, podcasters make their audio programs available
for download to portable digital audio devices (iPod, MP3 player, PDA).
Similar to the way TiVo time-shifts video, podcasting lets the audience
download and listen later.

The practice has taken off like wildfire. Directory site
Podcasting.net lists approximately 1,000 sites with new ones added
every
day. The audio streams offer topics ranging from computers and tech
news
to sports and even pets.

But while a 40GB iPod or even a 20GB iPod mini is great for holding
an hour-long podcast, Apple’s iPod shuffle just doesn’t measure up for
taking your favorite online talk show on the road.

“It’s neither a boon nor a bust. It’s just not useful for listening
to podcasts,” said Doc Searls, a respected blogger and co-author of the book
Cluetrain Manifesto. “Navigating inside a long podcast — and
many
are very long — is difficult even with a regular iPod, as it is with
all players. So, rather than fix the one feature that’s lame about the
iPod, they eliminated it completely.”

Smaller and lighter than a pack of gum, iPod shuffle comes in two
models: a 512MB model that holds up to 120 songs for $99 and its 1GB
cousin that costs $149. The device comes without a screen but the hard
drive is not susceptible to motion damage.

iPod Shuffle

The included software includes an AutoFill feature, which
automatically selects songs from a user’s music library and the iPod’s
set up lets a user manually allocate how much space can be reserved for
music files and how much can be used for data files.

Veteran podcaster and former MTV host Adam Curry said the iPod shuffle makes no sense at
all — and certainly not for podcasting.

“Apple hasn’t picked up on podcasting because they are thinking
about
how things work from Apple to the rest of the world. They are not
seeing
what is happening,” Curry said on his Thursday show, Daily Source
Code
.

While the iPod shuffle may be good as a starter device, given his
preference, Curry commented that he’d rather use a different player
altogether.

Apple is expecting big things with the iPod shuffle. During his
keynote at Macworld Expo, Jobs said the tiny player should help close
the 35 percent gap of the digital music player market share that Apple
does not already own. Jobs said Apple sold more than 4.5 million iPods
in the last three months. The CEO also said new deals with Mercedes,
Toyota, Nissan, Volvo and Ferrari should also help drive sales of the
iPod.

“Apple produced a product they think will grab market share in the
flash-based digital music player market,” Searls told
internetnews.com. “Given their success with the iPod and the
iPod
Mini, why argue with that? I wish ’em well. I also wish they’d make an
iPod that’s better for podcast listening.”

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