When Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs took the stage last week at Apples major developer conference, he brought with him a message about the future of broadcasting linked inextricably to the iPod.
Jobs gave the highest-profile blessing yet from a technology executive for an emerging form of audio downloads called Podcasting. He promised upcoming support in Apples widely used iTunes Music Store and media player for both finding Podcasts and automatically tracking and downloading the audio files.
Podcasting, which derives its name from the iPod, centers on the distribution of MP3 and other audio downloads through RSS-feed subscriptions and that are played on PCs or portable audio players.
The implications of Apples move, though, go beyond proselytizing the new medium of Podcasts. By building Podcasts directly into iTunes, Apple could help turn Podcasting into a more mainstream activity, usher in an era of premium downloads and pressure its digital music rivals to follow suit, say analysts and producers of Podcasts.
The In an on-stage demonstration at Apples Worldwide Developers Conference, Jobs showed how Apple is integrating both the discovery of Podcasts and subscriptions to their feeds into iTunes, including a directory of Podcast programs.
Podcast support is expected in the release of iTunes 4.9, which is due out by late July. Jobs had given a similar Podcasting demonstration to a more limited audience during the media-focused D: All Things Digital conference.
"Its going to basically take Podcasting mainstream to where anyone can do it," Jobs said at WWDC.