Default Podcasts

This past weekend I had an interesting conversation. I was talking to a friend who mentioned that she had recently gotten into listening to podcasts on her daily commute.

Intrigued I asked her a few questions about how she had discovered them. She first heard about podcasts after hearing about Serial. When I asked her how she listened to them, she said ‘with the Purple app on my iPhone’.

I suspect this is a somewhat common story over the last few months. The near perfect coincidence of the launch of Serial along with the change in iOS 8 to install the Apple Podcast app by default has almost certainly driven a massive wave of new podcast listeners to the medium.

I think Apple’s decision to make the Podcasts app a default app (rather than installable from the App Store) has had a tremendous impact on the overall awareness of podcasting as an entertainment medium. As a podcast creator and podcast app maker this is great news.

While superficially I could say that Apple promoting their own, free app so widely could hurt sales of my own app. I suspect the opposite is likely the case in the long-term. The biggest barrier I have to finding new customers isn’t direct competition with other apps but awareness of podcasting in general.

Today I happened to be doing a fresh install on one of my testing iPod touches. Out of curiosity I tried to see how quickly Apple funnels people who have heard about ‘podcasts’ into their app. I did a search for ‘Podcasts’ in all the places I could think someone might go looking on their iPhone. In every case the Apple Podcasts app was just a tap away.

Once someone gets used to the concept of listening to podcasts on their iPhone I would expect their next moves to be to (1) find other shows to listen to and (2) consider looking for other apps to listen within. Both of which sound good to me.

David Smith