The more I read about the upcoming iTunes 4.9 with podcasting support, the more it makes sense why they’re adding it. It’s not necessarily to help bring podcasting to the mainstream. It’s not because they’re all around good folks at Apple. It’s because if you look for your podcasts via the iTunes Music Store interface, which all the demos have shown, Apple now has even more visits / views of their other purchasable content at the store. It’s a give and take (hopefully) that Apple will locally host your podcast .mp3, .aac, ogg vorbis, or whatever, but you have to deal with Apple having links to buy songs all around the link to get to your podcast. That might sound all fine and dandy, but what if the Apple provided content surrounding your podcast doesn’t agree with what your podcast might be conveying? Unfortunately since you don’t own the real estate where that link is shown, you’re simply out of luck, with the only recourse being to request that your podcast be removed. Another thing that should be interesting to see are those podcasts with in-line/cast sponsorship, especially if it involves an Apple competitor. Will they be listed as fairly as Apple-friendly podcasts? Will they not be listed at all? One can only wait and see.
What is nice about this model are those who can’t handle the bandwidth limitations on their podcast, which Apple will help with, but would your podcast being in the Music store be the podcasting equivalent of selling out? Does that limit the ability of sponsorship later on? Unfortunately we won’t know the answer to this until after iTunes 4.9 comes out. Here’s to hoping that the advent of podcasts in the iTunes Music Store does not remove the freedom and openness of podcasting and lower it to a “gateway mechanism” to buy songs at the store.