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iTunes / iPod: the Anti-Competitive Duo

Over the weekend I decided to get serious about the SquawkBox, moving it from the status of experiment to feature. I like doing the podcast, and some people apparently like it enough to tune in regularly.  Time to think about syndication and distribution then.

The PodPress plugin I've been using with WordPress lets me easily syndicate my feed through Yahoo, Podcast Alley, podcastready, bubrry, and iTunes.  Naturally I signed up for them all, and for the most part it was the usual tedium of creating accounts and passwords and not much else.

Except iTunes.  In order to get them to accept my RSS feed, I had to download a whopper of a software package that I can't use,  sign up for a service that I can't use, and give them my credit card number to buy music that I can't play.

Distributing my feed through iTunes makes sense because it's the biggest service out there.  More people listen to podcasts on iPod than any other way.  However, I don't own an iPod myself.  Not that I think the iPod is a bad device.  My kids and my wife have them, use them, and love them.  I just happen to have other devices that I listen to music on.

To distribute your podcast through iTunes you must:

  1. Download iTunes.  You can't submit a podcast to iTunes, unless you're a user of iTunes.  I have no need for iTunes, as lovely as it might be.  It's rare that I listen to music on my PC, and iTunes only works with the iPod, not any of the devices I have.  Note: my Nokia N81 plays AAC files, and I would gladly use iTunes if it could synch with the N81.  Apple won't let me.  iTunes is only for iPod users.
  2. Sign up for an iTunes Store account.  Now, it's true that I had to sign up for accounts on Yahoo, Podcast Alley, and the others but they are simply web sites.  I didn't actually have to fork over my credit card number in order to submit my content for their listeners to download.  It wouldn't be so bad, if I could actually play the music that the iTunes store is selling, but I can't.  It's for iTunes and iPod users only.

Now that Apple essentially owns the distribution channel for digital  content, they have to do better. Coercing content producers like myself to use and pay for Apple products in order to reach our audience is anti-competitive and an artificial way to maintain Apple's lock on the content industry. 

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Jonathan Greene January 22, 2008, 7:16 am

    If you are so inclined you can actually sync with iTunes using Nokia's Mutimedia Transfer application – http://europe.nokia.com/A4423134

    I prefer to do over the air myself, but this works nicely if you do end up downloading things from your computer first.

  • Alec January 22, 2008, 11:32 am

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely check it out!

  • Geoff January 22, 2008, 8:11 pm

    Anti-competitive, artificial…yep, seems like an average day at Apple.

    So did you elect not to jump the Apple hoops? I was unable to find a "SquawkBox" podcast on the iTunes store.

  • Alec January 23, 2008, 12:19 am

    I jumped through the hoops, and now I await approval from the Apple gods…

  • MGU January 23, 2008, 1:45 pm

    This sort of thing is standard, I think. Did not Apple, the real inventor of Windows, try to prevent Microsoft from getting hold of it? And did not Microsoft try to reduce the saleability of other company’s software through its dominant operating system?


  • Alec January 23, 2008, 2:01 pm

    You’re crossing wires Dad. Apple sued Microsoft for copyright infringement, arguing that Microsoft had misappropriated their look and feel. In the end, Microsoft won the case as all of Apple’s claims were thrown out. Moreover, Apple really didn’t have much of a leg to stand on since their UI was in actual fact a copy of an earlier UI with mouse and Windows that came from the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.

    In this particular instance, Apple is forcing publishers to publish music in a format compatible with iTunes. I don’t particularly object to that. However, I do object to being forced to purchase and use Apple products in order to reach my audience simply because my audience chooses to listen on Apple products. Apple DOESN’T FORCE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY TO DO THIS. You don’t have to be an iTunes subscriber to publish a song on iTunes. It’s only podcasters that have to jump through these hoops.

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