Apple Podcast Backing "A Signal Event", Analyst Believes

Appleis announcement earlier this week that it will add built-in podcast support to the next version of its iTunes software could be just what the world of downloadable-and-go audio programs needs to move from a quick fad to an every day occurance, one online columnist believes.

Writing for Technology, Eric Hellweg believes last Sundayis announcement by Apple CEO Steve Jobs that a new version of iTunes software will debut in the next 60 days with full support to download and play a variety of podcast "will be a signal event for the technology, propelling it from a hobbyistis pursuit to a medium that less tech-savvy people might explore and enjoy.

"The podcasting movement, for all its headlines, is in dire need of the "Apple treatment," he wrote. "More than anything else, Apple has succeeded in the last 10 years because it has made technology easy for people to understand and commodity hardware stylish. Appleis iPod is the leading digital music player, with 80% market share. Whatis more, the companyis online music store, iTunes, owns upward of 70% of the legal online music market."

Mr. Hellweg wrote some in the podcast community are hoping Appleis entry will help clear up the murky legal water surrounding music on podcasts and possibly set up a new licensing arrangement with ASCAP and BMI -- the two music licensing services -- to offer cheaper, reasonable pricing for small time podcasters.

"Still, itis clear that Appleis podcast announcement will raise the activity up a couple rungs on the popularity ladder," Mr. Hellweg concluded.