Archives for May 2006

Portable Media Expo 2005 – A Glimpse into the Future

By Alex Mandossian

Portable Media Expo 2005 was an incredible event!  I recommend that anyone interested in podcasting plan to attend the next one on September 29-30, 2006.

Tim Borkwin produced a class act.  I have never seen such an awesome first time expo and I can′t wait to see what he has planned for the second one.

One question that was obviously on every attendee′s mind was, “Can I monetize a podcast?  Can I see a revenue stream from it?”

Although there were many big name keynote speakers at the expo discussing the topic of portable media, when my good friend, Tom Jeffries from Industrial Audio Software held a breakout session titled Podcasting to Your Bottom Line, the room was totally packed.  It was standing room only and a fire marshal guarded the door to prevent more people from entering.

The other breakout sessions had no shortage of seats to hear the keynote speakers, but on the topic of how to monetize a podcast, the response was overwhelming.

$497 Podcast Seminar for $1?


Contributed by Paul ColliganJune 8 – Los Angeles LAX Marriot

June 15 – Orlando (SeaWorld) Renaissance

4 Hour Seminar – Podcast Secrets

Case studies (including how we’re bringing Stephen to #1), expert speakers, interactive Podcast design, experiential learning and more.

Oh yes, there is another option ;-)

The event (both locations) is (surprise!) the day before the AM2Online.com Customer Appreciation Seminar compliments of my business partner, fellow Podcaster, co-author and friend, Alex Mandossian.

The Customer Appreciation Seminar is, get this, just a buck!

Grab a reservation to the Customer Appreciation Seminar and show me you’re serious about attending with a hotel reservation (their event has discount rooms – don’t worry), and you get to attend my event for free.

Really?

Yes, really.

I hope to see you there. –Paul Colligan

A Desktop Search Engine

By Alex Mandossian

When it comes to web search, Goggle is the engine of choice for most people.  But for the computer desktop search, I use Windows desktop search because it′s integrated into my operating system.

I can ask Windows search to find everything related to “Big Seminar 6,” and it will find PowerPoint slides, e-mails, and documents and group it in one area.  Search is integrated entirely in the desktop.

Right now, there is no way to search for voice recognition.  Yet podcasts are tagged with meta tags.

What if Microsoft integrated meta tag searches into the Windows desktop search?  I could use my Windows search to search for “all the podcasts that Alex Mandossian spoke in,” and it would search through all the podcasts archived on my computer with that meta tag.

Even more powerful would be integrating MSN search to search through podcasts′ meta tags online and find all the podcasts across the web that contain the keywords you are searching for.

Three Options

I see these three areas where Microsoft could meet a need in the podcasting market and really establish itself as a dominant force.

All these options require someone who has servers, major web destinations, and access to the desktop.  These are the types of things that only somebody like Microsoft could do.

We have no idea what direction Microsoft is going to go in, but these are certainly some very viable ideas that I would love to see them pursue.

Media Player Integrated Statistics

By Alex Mandossian

Right now Media Player is a memory hog that really doesn′t do anything that any of the other products like it don′t do. I can listen to my music and podcasts in iTunes and iTunes gets my podcasts for me.

In order to make Media Player relevant again, Microsoft could offer listener statistics to their podcasters.

I want to know how often my files have moved from one person to another. I would like to send content out as a Windows Media file and have Media Player not only list what was listened to but how long someone listen to it on their computer and if they synched it with a portable device.

Microsoft could collect the data and send it back to me whenever Media Player connects to the Internet. Right now, all the players have the ability to turn communication on and off with the software companies, and that should always be there.

I′d pay a lot of money to get a sampling of my market and know how much and how long my market listened to my podcasts. That′s really important to me as a podcaster.

No one is offering that service right now to podcasters. If Microsoft′s Media Player could report some permission based statistics and integrate that automatic two-way communication with the podcaster, that would establish Microsoft in the game immediately.

A Server Built For Podcasters

By Alex Mandossian

Microsoft has a web server called IIS, Microsoft Internet Information Server.  Their main competitor is the web servers from Linux.

It has always been difficult to get people to switch from a Linux server to a Windows server because it′s more expensive, there are always technical and support issues, and there is really no compelling reason to do so.

I’ve got a compelling offer for Microsoft that would cause their server sales to soar.

If the next version of IIS, had podcasting statistics integrated into it, personally, I would move everything to a Microsoft server in a heartbeat. And I know thousands of podcasters who would do the same.  

What do I mean by podcasting statistics?  I mean statistics that let me go into my web hosting server and get full reports on the things I want to track on my podcasts. As a marketer, I like to know how many real subscribers I have, how many people listened on the computer, and how many people downloaded it and took it with them. I′d also like to tie the IP addresses that the podcatchers ping into a sequel database.

That type of differentiation of the same content could help any company make very important decisions concerning their next step.

For instance, if 98% of your audience is listening in front of their computers, maybe podcasting isn’t for you. But if more than half of your audience is downloading the podcast and taking it with them, you need to know that.

Microsoft could integrate that kind of webcasting statistics into their server operating system.  They have access to that in their web server.

And most importantly, nobody else is offering this type of service.  The best stats available right now are from FeedBurner, who is doing a great job, but cannot give the kind of statistics that I′ve mentioned.

Podcasters are limited because they don′t have access at the root level where they want it – on the web servers. Most Podcast are being run over patchy Linux platforms.

I′m not just suggesting that Microsoft develop a good statistics program that reads your web stats and gives you podcast-friendly stats. That already exists.

I’m suggesting integration at the server level so that almost your entire reporting feature, the stuff that you watch and monitor, is available when you want it.

I′m suggesting a web server that is based on the purpose of serving podcasting and webcasting, a web server that allows podcasters to put the content in once, and then stream it or podcast it. Maybe it could even tie some of their DRM into it. 

If it was integrated at the server level on IIS, I could put a podcast file in once, then it could be downloaded as an mp3, or even a Microsoft media file, or streamed in. I could get all those statistics in one place.

Podcasters who are serious about monetizing their podcasts would switch to this kind of a server in a heartbeat, and Microsoft could easily dominate that market.

What Should Microsoft Do If They Really Want to Get Into the Podcasting Game?

By Alex Mandossian

In the emerging world of podcasting, several companies have already established dominance for themselves, and Microsoft isn′t one of them.

Apple is leading the media player market with their line of iPods.  They also own iTunes, the leading podcatching software found on our computer desktops and inside of iPods.

Yahoo! appears to be taking dominance in the online podcasting market with their beta version of Podcasts.Yahoo.com

Where does Microsoft fit in?  So far, it doesn′t fit in anywhere.  And if they try to compete with a similar product to one that is already out there, they′re going to lose.

While some say that it is too late for Microsoft to join the podcasting game, I believe that there are three areas where Microsoft can still dominate the podcasting world.

Microsoft′s Strengths

By Alex Mandossian

What Microsoft has is a very strong online presence. They have the Internet browser – Internet Explorer – as part of their Windows operating system.  While many argue that it isn′t the best browser available, the fact is most of the people on the planet use it.

Podcasting got its name because people began downloading songs from the Internet onto their iPod to listen to.  But actually it is much more than that.  

Now people download talk programs and information products to their media players as well. And we now have a better selection of media players to choose from even though the iPod is still the market′s favorite.  Users can also listen to these broadcasts while online. 

What we have today could be better defined as webcasting than podcasting.  If Microsoft could somehow reframe this whole podcasting thing and call it webcasting, they could offer another direction.

Even though it′s the same thing, just by reframing the whole concept they could cause enough confusion in the marketplace to gain an advantage. 

I hope one day Microsoft will have a search engine for webcasters, people who are looking for podcasts online while looking at their computers.

Right now Microsoft has a huge advantage because of the MSN search engine.  While Google is the most popular search engine today, it′s no secret that all the statistics and case studies have shown that it is a male-oriented search engine.  

But MSN Search is a female dominated search engine according to the case studies that I read and according to my own experience.  Women love MSN search. They adore the densely populated words that are there.  They read everything. They stay on the search results and read for a long, long time.  

Could Microsoft offer something to the podcasting marketplace that nobody else is doing, something that would establish dominance in a certain area the way Apple has dominated the media player market with the iPod?

Perhaps.  Microsoft has many strengths and the world of podcasting is still evolving.

Limited Options

By Alex Mandossian

Microsoft isn′t into hardware; they have always focused on software. I don′t believe they are going to try to join the podcasting game by developing another media player.

Besides, the iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, and iPod Video are already dominating the market, not to mention many other really nice media players that are available.

What about another podcatching software product? Again, we already have great podcatching software.

For our computer desktop, Apple′s iTunes is sexy, gorgeous, and the number one podcatching product on Windows. If Microsoft tries to compete with iTunes, they’re going to lose pathetically.

ITunes owns the iPods. And iPods own the portable media player market since 80% of media players sold are iPods.

For online podcasting, Yahoo! owns that part with www.Podcasts.Yahoo.com. They′ve got the web interface that not only allows for subscriptions to the iPods – they know where the market share is – but also allows subscription through their own music engine. This allows you to put your podcasts on your Zen Micros, your Gmini Archos, and all the other different devices available on the market.

Apple owns the desktop software of choice and Yahoo! owns the web software of choice. I don′t think Microsoft can do anything in any of these arenas if they try to be just another option.

The only thing worse than having the bus go in the wrong direction is having the bus go the wrong direction enthusiastically. I think that′s what Microsoft is afraid of, whether they do it intentionally or not.

Could they create a podcast directory that is the godmother of all directories? There are some challenges with iTunes′ and Yahoo!′s podcast directories. However, iTunes has tens of thousands of podcasts in their directory and it would be hard to come up with something much better.

My opinion is that Microsoft needs to look at their strengths and develop something that is needed in the podcasting market that no one else is delivering or doing.

Podcasting is Just Another Form of Communication

By Alex Mandossian

It isn’t about people listening to Internet radio in front of their computers; it is about people grabbing an entire wealth of knowledge from the internet and putting it on a portable player to take with them wherever they go.

People spend hundreds of dollars on their players and the information they put on it, whether it is songs, podcasts or information products.  Podcasting is about people bettering themselves by turning their dead time into entertainment time and learning time.

So what can Microsoft do with podcasting?  Is it already too late for them to play in the podcasting game? Who knows?         

The fact is, they have to make a decision now if they want to play in the game at all. The only bad decision right now is no decision at all.  That would be a train wreck about to happen.

What Should Microsoft Do If They Really Want to Get Into the Podcasting Game?

By Alex Mandossian

Microsoft has always been a lagging indicator in the direction that Internet marketing and the technology realm are heading. They tend to watch what′s happening and join in after something has been already been established, after someone else has made the mistakes.

It′s an interesting strategy. But when it comes to podcasting, there are those who believe that Microsoft is just too late to join the game. A few critics have said that there is absolutely nothing that Microsoft can do to become relevant in the podcasting arena.

Recently, Microsoft executives have talked about podcasting being part of upcoming software releases. We′ve heard that Longhorn, the next generation Windows operating system, is going to have RSS and other features integrated into it. But they′ve really done nothing at this point.

They recently had a big RSS integration demo with Longhorn in front of a large audience. During the presentation, it crashed. This doesn′t look good for Microsoft.

Now I hear that RSS is going to be integrated into Internet Explorer and we’ll be able to subscribe to a podcast right from our webpage.

Well, we already have software that works with the existing operating systems and are absolutely satisfied with the current mentality.  Who′s going to want to buy a $300 operating system to do something you can already do? Integration into the OS is becoming less and less important.

They′ve recently launched Windows Live and Office Live, both of which have RSS integration, but neither has anything to do at all with podcasting. So far, all we′ve seen is Microsoft giving lip service to podcasting.

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