Apple Computer has released a minor upgrade to its market-leading iTunes digital music jukebox that adds the ability to subscribe to radio-like audio recordings called podcasts. The company also terminated its iPod photo product line and lowered prices on some iPods.
"Podcasting is the next generation of radio," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said. "Users can now subscribe to over 3000 free podcasts and have each new episode automatically delivered over the Internet to their computer and iPod." Until Apple integrated podcast support into iTunes, subscribing to these audio recordings was difficult and required third-party software or add-ins.
By making podcasting an integrated part of iTunes, which is free, Apple hopes to take the technology mainstream. It's unclear, however, how much demand exists for this kind of thing: On Apple's top podcast list, for example, four of the top ten podcasts are for niche, technology-oriented blogs, which speaks volumes about the nascent nature of podcasts. (Check out Windows IT Pro's recent foray into podcasting--an overview of some of the products that won awards at TechEd US 2005 by Paul Robichaux--at the URL below.)
As for its iPod line, Apple made two key moves yesterday. First, it canceled its poorly selling and overly expensive iPod photo line and moved its color screen and photo slide show capabilities to the mainstream iPods. Apple now has two iPod models: a 20GB unit for $299 and a 60GB unit that sells for $399. Apple also reduced the prices of two iPod models. The black U2 iPod Special Edition now costs just $329, a $30 premium over the regular 20GB iPod, and now includes that device's color and photo features as well. The company also reduced the price of the 1GB iPod shuffle from $149 to $129.