In an attempt to address long-standing concerns over podcast monetization, data and other perceived platform issues, Apple employees met with leading podcast publishers at the company’s Cupertino headquarters last month.
According to two people familiar with the matter, Apple invited seven podcast professionals to take part in a discussion regarding the state of the medium, particularly problems that since late cofounder Steve Jobs introduced the platform onstage in 2005, reports The New York Times.
While Apple fell short of promising change, employees at the meeting later relayed podcaster grievances with iTunes chief Eddy Cue in a closed-door meeting. In a statement, Cue said:
“We have more people than ever focused on podcasting, including engineers, editors and programmers. Podcasts hold a special place with us at Apple.”
Despite a major change in the medium, podcasts are far from being a major focus for Apple. Podcasters are complaining about issues related to advanced monetization tools and related features like promotion within iTunes and social media sharing. For the most part, Apple’s backend services haven’t changed since 2005.
The report notes that part of the problem is Apple’s hands-off approach to podcasting. Since the company does not take a cut of advertising revenue, and restricts publishers from selling episodes or subscriptions through iTunes, it has little skin in the game. For Apple, podcasts are effectively a value-added feature to promote hardware platform stickiness.
Competitors are taking the opportunity to step in, offering podcasters the tools they want and the monetization they need. In January, Spotify activated a podcast service promising publishers access to listening data, as well as episode hosting and streaming. Amazon’s Audible.com is also making a push into the sector, the report said.
When it comes to podcasts, Apple is still the market leader. According to podcast tracking firm RawVoice, Apple is pulling in 65 percent of listeners, however this number is down 70 percent year-over-year. Currently, there are more than 325,000 podcasts served through iTunes.