I hope that when Apple adds a Podcasting feature to iTunes—as Steve Jobs says the company will do this summer—that it will turn out better than iTunes Internet radio feature.
The problem with iTunes radio is that most online broadcasters use RealNetworks or Windows Media formats not supported by the iTunes player. That severely limits the number of Internet stations that iTunes can receive. If you dont believe me, look at iTunes anemic radio directory.
With Podcasts mostly in MP3 format, iTunes should at least be able to play most of them. Apple plans to automate the downloading process, helping users grab the Podcasts off the Internet for listening on a desktop or laptop or dropping them onto an iPod for mobile listening.
iTunes runs on both Mac and Windows, so thats a plus both for listeners and Podcasters. And while there are other programs that download Podcasts, Apple has the ability to really popularize them in some circles. They arent, after call, called Podcasts for nothing.
Jobs says Apple will do some filtering to help users find quality Podcasts. It will be interesting to see how this works and what chance independent Podcasters will have of making it through the Apples filter. Over time, I expect the “most listened to” Podcasts will be products of existing media companies that use Podcasts as a means of repurposing content.