Podcasters, please get into my mobile phone!
The main device I carry around, is connected and ready to receive your shows is my phone.
If you push (or rather let me subscibe) to your podcasts on my mobile the probability that I will listen to it increases. Serve it to me and I might listen to it at work, in the car, on the bus or wherever I am.
It seems like a large part of the podcast culture hoovers around iTunes and iPods (correct me if I'm wrong). Meaning that podcasts are mainly listened to on portable mp3-players.
In some cases also on a PC. Sometimes in the PC mp3-player, sometimes from a web interface.
However, as Christopher S. Penn noted after Podcamp Europe, the mobile phone is a under-utilized device for podcasts.
Today, most phones can double as an MP3-player. This together with the "always connected" nature of a mobile phone makes them a perfect podcast player.
And it's simple!
There's a number of options to get a podcast into a mobile phone. The first one is the very easy way mainly discussed in this post. The other options are listed more to make the list as complete as possible. Let me know if you can think of any other.
- Simply SMS the link to download the podcast
Very simple and straight forward. Just send your audience a text message (SMS) with the link to the latest episode ("Here is my latest show: http://mysite.com/myshow.mp3").
The subscriber can then click on the link and download your show. Just like that. It will end up among the MP3 library on the phone.
Two questions that you are likely to have:
A) Will my audience let me have their cellular number?
B) How do I mass-distribute SMS:es in a good way?
No doubt there is a number of solutions to this, depending on your specific situation. A quick Google search reveals a number of links to explore further.
However, there is one interesting solution using Twitter (yes, one of my favourites) or any of the twitter clones out there.
Create a Twitter account with the name of your show. Then tell your audience to send "follow myshow" to the Twitter number. Take it from there.
You probably should consider to limit the tweets from this account to only new episodes. Also ensure that you explain the basic stuff for your users.
There is a number of really good benefits from this approach.
* First, the subsciber does not have to reveal their mobile phone number to you.
* Second, they do not need to use a PC. At any stage. Promote your show outside the internet. Have people sign up immediately. Even those who never will touch a PC.
The persons you target this way does not need to be interested at all in the rest of the Twitter world. It is up to them if they would like to explore it.
(You may note that the Twitter application Twittergram is closely releated in terms of functionality. But if you already host your media somewhere you just need to push the URL.)
Some other options includes:
- Syncronize with the media library on your PC
As the phone in many cases doubles as an MP3-player it should be possible to use eg iTunes to do this. Haven't tried this though. And more important - a majority of the user does not conect their phone to their PC at all!
- Download a dedicated java application
A very common approach when doing something for mobile phones is to build a java (J2ME) application and let people download it. I am not aware (have not looked that far though) of any java podcast player for mobiles (any pointers?). However, downloading a java app is for many people a big step, and thus is probably not a good way towards the real mass market.
Update! I was just made aware of the Mobilcast java client. Any more?
- Use built in applications
I expect more and more phones to have built in capabilities to connect to podcasts. Eg through an RSS reader.
- Phone into a podcast
A very natural way to listen to audio on your phone is of course to dial a number and listen. This is what eg Podlinez offer. Will work with any phone. However I see some drawbacks.
* Firstly the audio quality of a phone call might be lower than of a MP3 file.
* Secondly you will be busy on the phone while listening.
- Use MMS as delivery
MMS is another option, which I feel I have to mention since I earlier worked with MMS Traffic Growth. Packing your podcast into MMS messages. To solve the packaging I found this article. Here is one product in this space.
- Stream through the browser
Finally, simply provide a (mobile) web page where the audio is streamed is doable. However I have not found any examples live for audio only (I have tried a nice video demo). Any pointers?
While writing this I also found this article discussing the topic.
Some last considerations
I have not discussed download time and cost for the consumer here. In general the trend moves quickly towards high speed mobile data and 3G access, and that the cost for data is going down or is offered as flat rate.
Mind you, this might not be true for all of your potential audience. Some might also have phones that does not support eg MP3 files.
I also suggest that you consider to select a suitable MP3 bit rate - remember, you might not need a high bit rate to get enough audio quality. And a lower bitrate will make the size of your file smaller and faster to download. Thus giving a smother experience for your audience.
I must admit I am not a big consumer of podcasts (perhaps due to you not delivering to my doorstep?) but when I occationally stumble upon a podcast I'd like to listen to I copy-and-paste the media URL into the SMS from desktop application I use and sent it to myself so I can download it. Works perfect. Yesterday I downloaded and listened to a 40+ Mbyte podcast. Took me a few minutes and the I had more than an hour of listening.
And Christopher S. Penn issued this contest after Podcamp Europe. I suspect he rather meant SonyEricsson, taking the handset route. This is not a formal entry to the contest from Ericsson, but I believe the 1st option outlined above come close to the stated rule. And it will work on many handsets.
(Disclaimer: I do work for Ericsson, and in areas that are related to this post. I do not blog on behalf of Ericsson. However I am probably somehow biased.)
Podcasters - what do you say? Will you deliver to my doorstep?