Speaking at the D: All Things Digital conference, Jobs showed off the new version of iTunes, which will include a searchable directory of Podcasts. Apple plans to make it easy to find and subscribe to Podcasts via iTunes—it will take just a single click to subscribe to a Podcast once it has been located.
One of the more recent Internet fads, Podcasts combine the subscription capabilities of RSS with digital audio files to automate the process of downloading digital audio files from the Internet to desktop computers and digital audio players.
Version 4.9 of iTunes, due within 60 days, will include the Podcast directory and the subscription manager. Using RSS, iTunes will automatically connect to the Internet and download new audio files—and then transfer them to a connected iPod. Decrying the current state of Podcasting as "really hard to do so far," Jobs said he plans on simplifying the identification and downloading of audio.
Apple also plans on adding an editorial filter to its Podcast directory. "Well highlight the ones that are really good," Job claimed, to help the cream rise to the top. The new version of iTunes will work with industry-standard protocols, Jobs promised, which means users should be able to add any Podcast available via the Net—whether its included in iTunes or not. And initially all the Podcasts will be available for free, although Jobs left the door open for premium content down the road.
Podcast listeners will also be able to interact with downloaded audio streams, downloading artwork for music being played, and even buying the song from iTunes with just a click of the mouse.
Jobs cited more than 8,000 Podcasts, with new ones from Business Week, Forbes, Disney and Sirius, as proof that Podcasting has gone big time. But even while touting the new subscription-based audio features in iTunes 4.9, he downplayed any upcoming Apple foray into video aggregation. Jobs flatly denied the rumors that Apple is looking to buy TiVo, pointing to how the set-top box market limits innovation.
Jobs went on to downplay any Media Center-type device from Apple, saying, "Microsofts media center is a fun product, but has not sold high volumes even by our standards," referring to Apples paltry 4 percent of the U.S. market.