While we’re all happily downloading the Arctic Monkeys or Ricky Gervais comedy-fest to our MP3s or computers and hailing the latest technology revolution, those scamps at Business Week have sneaked in through the back door with a rather pertinent question.
They want to know whether the revolution is actually happening and if podcasting has any sort of shelf-life before it too becomes redundant and overtaken by the very technology that spawned it in the first place (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/).
The decision to question the podcasting phenomenon is based on a survey into how long it will be before society trades in the daily paper for the daily download.
The report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project polled nearly 3,000 US adults and found that around 12% of internet users have downloaded podcasts in order to listen in at a later time. This represents an increase of 5% in the last year, however, most of those tuning into podcasts are only sampling shows available when they have some time, rather than subscribing and regularly listening to particular programmes.
So if, as the study suggests, only 1% of internet users download podcasts on a typical day, Business Week’s question would seem a valid and timely one to ask.
But surely the better question to ask would be why only 1% of users download podcasts on a daily basis?
As a recent convert to podcasting, I would hazard a guess that the answer lies somewhere in the quality of material available.
Like the web itself, there’s some good out there and there is also a lot of bad – the middle ground mediocrity makes its presence felt too.
For every Ricky Gervais there’s a Richard Vobes.
For every Arctic Monkeys there a bunch of decidedly chilly chimps unable to play their instruments or string a coherent lyric together.
Also like the web itself, I believe podcasting needs a little more time to evolve.
As we all get to grips with the technology, the potential and more importantly the audience we are hoping to attract, the quality threshold will improve. As the quality increases, so will the numbers of those downloading every day.