Now that its dedicated podcast application has been released, it is clear that Apple is taking the feature seriously. It was first brought to iTunes in 2005, although it was pushed to the side and forgotten about. But Apple’s renewed effort made the new Podcasts app integral to the iTunes ecosystem.
A “Redeem” button is included with the iOS 6 version of the application. It looks the same as those found in the iTunes and App Stores, but the fact that it is only available for the upcoming mobile operating system is puzzling. Regardless, this could mean that Apple has plans of monetizing the popular digital formant, which is currently free for subscribers.
The Mystery of the Redeem Button
The Redeem button does not appear in the Podcasts app on iOS handsets. However, it is present on Apple devices that run on iOS 6 beta. When clicked, it opens another page that is somewhat similar to the iOS App Store.
Podcasts uses the same iTunes pipeline and storefront, as that allows Apple to update the app. This could explain the presence of the purported button in the iOS 6 beta. There is also the possibility of redeem codes, which content providers could use instead of letting subscribers search for a particular podcast.
Why the button is only present in the upcoming mobile OS is still a mystery. However, there are speculations that Apple may be looking for ways they can monetize Podcasts. If the company allows podcast creators to charge for their content, it will be the first pay-per-download or subscription-based distribution since the introduction of digital shorts in the iTunes Store in 2005.
So far, Apple has forbid podcasters to directly charge for their content. But this has prompted media providers to find ways they can earn from it anyway, such as in-show advertising or website donations.
While podcasting is becoming popular and lucrative, Apple is missing out on an industry that they also helped to build. Thus, there is a possibility that the company is mulling over a royalty-based distribution model that is almost the same as how iTunes handles music, movies, and books. It is yet to be known what the effects of a new pricing scheme for downloading would be. On the flip side, podcasters could see the same or even better revenue under the possible new monetization process.
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