Consuming Podcasts on mobile devices has come a long way since Libsyn started 8 ½ Years ago (Nov 2004). In the early days consuming a podcast on a mobile device took a lot of work by the end users.
First listeners needed to download a special program like iPodderX - then they manually entered in the RSS feed of the show they wanted to listen to (don’t even ask about finding shows back in the day). Then once the files downloaded to their computer - they had to manually connect their iPod or other MP3 player to the computer and sync. And if they commuted - they had to remember to do that every morning before they left for work.
Sure Apple released iTunes with Podcast support in June 2005 - and that helped a lot to grow podcasting - but fundamentally the issue of download and sync to iPod did not change just the application people were using. People still had to remember to sync the mobile device. Actually some people still do that to this day.
However things started to change in June 2007 - with the release of the iPhone and the new Smartphone world. The iPad kicked in another important segment in early 2010.
Smartphones and Tablets now make it possible to download directly to the mobile device - for instant access to a listeners podcasts and no need to sync.
While the iPhone was released in 2007 - it has taken until 2013 for Podcasting to reach a very important milestone.
Today more podcasts are downloaded directly to Mobile devices than to computers.
This is a huge deal.
In March 2013 for all the downloads from all the 13,000+ shows hosted with Libsyn - we saw the following stats for where podcasts were directly downloaded to:
Mobile = 51.37%
Computer = 48.58%
Set Top Box = 0.05%
If you want to geek out in stats a little bit more: on the mobile side there was a 4.76:1 ratio for downloads to iOS devices directly vs downloads to Android devices.
Of course given Apples long and strong history of supporting Podcasting and Google’s generally apathy towards Podcasting - that ratio is not surprising. But is important in pointing out - that getting Android users engaged in podcast consumption is the low hanging fruit out there.
There are a lot of people that even today say consuming podcasts is too difficult.
Based on What?
Today podcasting is as easy to consume as Angry birds is to play.
You open your mobile device - you tap on the app and you consume. It really is that easy.
Maybe people are saying “THEIR” podcast is tough to consume. And that might be because they don’t have their own smartphone app.
Looking at the Libsyn stats for March over 7.5% of mobile downloads happened directly to Podcasters own stand alone smartphone apps - not the generic apps - but their own branded apps. And that percentage is growing every month.
If you don’t have your own smartphone app in the iTunes store, Amazon Store and Google play store - then maybe your podcast is not as easy to find and consume as your peers.
If you are hosting with Libsyn - you now can have your own stand alone - free to the end user - smartphone app for iOS and Android. If you want more details - email me - rob (at) libsyn (dot) com - we are doing a special beta program until May 10th. So email me soon.
The other advantage of having a stand alone app in the apps stores is discoverability. People searching for a subject matter may stumble upon your show - while not looking specifically for a podcast - and decide to give your app a try.