Downloading and listening to or watching music, videos and television programs with iPods, MP3 players and yes, that ol' reliable desktop, has crept up from 7% of internet users to 12% in the past 6 months according to the Pew American Life and Internet Project.
For those who look for 'divides' the data point to differences in podcast use among men and women (15% vs 8%), those 64 years and younger vs 65+, and those with 6+ years of online experience vs those with 3 or less years. Note: NO significant differences among age groups until 65, NO significant differences among educational levels, and NO significant differences among household incomes. Data on the race and ethnicity of podcast users was not reported. Interestingly, users with broadband access were not significantly more likely to download podcasts than internet users with dial-up connections (14% vs 10%).
A Business Week 'news analysis' on 'What Podcasting Revolution?' asks are they doing it regularly? [Only 1% on atypical day.] But that should be no surprise: who in their right mind is going to download podcasts regularly through their broadband or dial-up internet connection and then transfer the file to a player (the iPod two-step) on their way to work or school? Remember that time is our most precious personal resource.
The reporter is also looking for the mass market appeal of podcasts, seemingly oblivious to the idea that the power of podcasting is narrowcasting or slivercasting by and for people of like minds for their own communities, not creating the next RCA. Her nut is: As more bloggers produce professional podcasts, such content will
become a greater competitor to television and other forms of media. But
podcasting has a long way to go before it poses a serious threat.
For your own programs, do not believe in the mass market appeal of podcasts. Focus on developing and delivering content that allows people to participate when and where they can at their convenience. One great value of these new media is that you do not have to expend a large amount of resources to reach everyone at one space and time any more; you can learn to aggregate listeners and viewers over time at very low incremental costs to your program. That's the communication insight from The Long Tail.
Podcasts should make audio recordings (and purchases) of conference presentations extinct in 2007. Every major presentation made at your organization or institution, especially by outside experts, should be a podcast that any employee (and us interested 'outsiders') can listen to and appreciate later (if you invite us in). Any important internal meeting whether it be programmatic or administrative is a podcast for dissemination to others. And then you can think about producing educational and entertaining podcasts that are generated by and for your audiences when such tactics make sense from both behavior change and audience perspectives.
The one thing you won't have to worry about is that you are automatically contributing to the widening of digital divides.
And a note to the readers who get diffusion theory: that's a 71% increase in 6 months in podcast adoption and closing in on the 'take-off' target (aka the tipping point). What do you suppose will happen to podcast usage as the iPod 2-step is displaced by wireless downloads to your cellphone - and especially when the automobile makers begin to incorporate such technologies into their new models?
Photo Credit: Lynetter