July 17, 2006

We've already established that I'm a musical Luddite, still wedded to the ancient and dying CD format for my tunes. So, I'm highly encouraged (and a bit surprised, given the trash talk) to read that someone has put out a call for someone to create a podcasting application that I would embrace with enthusiasm.

Want to be famous and actually make some money too? Then create this-

An application, online or local, that allows a user to subscribe to podcasts and organize their subscription lists.

Allow them to listen to the podcasts online or to download them into an iPod.

Here comes the new and important part...

Create an easy to implement way to have selected podcasts automatically burned to a CD-R every week or so, with each podcast to be a separate track. After it is set up, the application would simply prompt the user to insert a CD-R every so often, at which time it would burn that week's podcasts onto a CD-R that could be listened to in the car.

The application would also create a text document with the track numbers, names, dates and descriptions of the podcasts. That document could be printed and used as a listening reference. Label maker developers could write plug-ins that would allow the automatic printing of jewel case labels or, even better, templates for applications, like my Primera printer, that print on the CD-R itself.

Have the podcast name and date burned on the CD-R as CD Text.

Most car stereos can play MP3's now, so that would be the default setting- for more capacity. But there would also be an option to burn the CD-R in CDA format so older car stereos could also play it. CD-R's are almost free these days, so cost is not a factor.

Plus, the CD-R's would allow the user to create an archive of podcasts and to share good ones with friends.

People would happily pay for this product. And if you wanted to be true to the Web 2.0 mantra and get some of the allegedly infinite ad revenue, you could place ads on the application pages, if it's an online application, or on the CD-R between the podcasts themselves. Perhaps there would be a cheaper version of the application that has brief ads between the podcasts and a full-priced version that doesn't.

Yes, yes, yes (and for the record, I'd pay the full price to avoid the ads). It's a simple matter of time and efficiency for me. When I'm at the computer, I'm working or blogging. I can divide my attention between pages when I'm reading and writing, but words in the background, even music to an extent, get filtered out. Further, the last thing I need is another feed to check and do something with. If all I have to do is put CDs into a burner, and for this effort I get a copy of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" or some new music to sample, all of which I can listen to in my car as I commute, that's outstanding.

The time I spend in my car is time I can't spend doing other stuff. It's perfect for this kind of multitasking. That would be worth some money to me. I do still intend to get an iPod, but it occurs to me lately that the main reason I haven't felt so motivated to do it is that I'd need to hook it into my car stereo to make it truly useful to me. I don't need it enough to change the way I go about my daily business.

Now, I realize that the auto-burn-to-CD approach, which Dwight calls a "burncaster", is a stopgap. Some day this sort of thing will be built directly into one's car. That capability will almost surely depend on technology or infrastructure that doesn't exist yet and may be quite a ways off. What's being proposed here could be available in a matter of months and would likely make a decent amount of money prior to (and continuing for awhile after) its obsolesence. So have at it, someone! I'm waiting to buy your product.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 17, 2006 to Music | TrackBack

One of the perks of driving cars till they disintegrate is that my car (a 2001 Jetta) has a... gasp... cassette deck. So I listen to podcasts while driving off of my iPod with one of those cassette adapters (which work far better than those FM transmitter things). It's like having an endless supply of talk radio with brains.

If for some reason I'm not doing much driving, I get way behind in my listening.

Posted by: John on July 17, 2006 7:26 AM

Car stereo makers and auto manufacturers have figured out that by adding a $1.39 (retail price) 1/8" stereo input jack, they can call the stereo/car "iPod compatible" and boost the price/desirability.

Both of the cars I considered when we bought our second car (after leaving the vale of tears that is JC) had them. It's pretty much a slam dunk.

Crutchfield's has two different sections on iPod/car connectors in the $100 range. Depending on the quality of your car stereo, it might be better to replace it entirely.

The problem with the burncaster is not that different from the problem with TiVomated Satellite Radio receivers. The RIAA is paying off any congressman who will take money to kill those. Nobody's going to make that software because they'll be sued, even if it's legal.

Posted by: Michael on July 17, 2006 9:30 AM

BTW: I will sell you this product for $800. That consists of a $599 mac Mini with iTunes, a custom automator workflow to monitor a directory for PodCasts and schedule CD-R burns (1 hour coding, 2 hours testing), and all the other benefits of a small home media machine (direct digital connection to your home stereo and TV for PodCast/VidCast use, wireless central music server, remote control, etc...

Posted by: Michael on July 17, 2006 9:43 AM

People would happily pay for this product.

My RCA AP-1 45-RPM Highway Hi-Fi and Wonderbar radio work just fine, although I've always wanted a transportable radio.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on July 17, 2006 12:41 PM

That RCA unit was probably designed in the building I work in, which was RCA's research facility (RCA Labs) from 1943 until Jack Welch bought RCA. It's unlikely that anyone still here was involved back then, but some of the oldtimers probably knew people who worked on it...

Posted by: Michael on July 17, 2006 1:33 PM