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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Apple brings podcasts into iTunes
iTunes and CD
Apple's iTunes is widely used across the world
Apple plans to police which podcasts make it into the directory of shows available via its iTunes program.

As expected, the new version of the music jukebox software includes the ability to download podcasts.

By providing a directory of 3,000 shows, Apple says it is taking podcasting into the mainstream.

The software also allows people to send in their podcasts for inclusion on the list, but Apple will vet these due to editorial and copyright concerns.

Rising popularity

Podcasts are downloadable audio shows that can be created and listened to by anyone with the right equipment.

We're not trying to be the gatekeeper of podcasting. We wanted to make it easy for people to publish their podcasts
Stan Ng, Apple
Podcasts have grown quickly in popularity as they are an easy way of getting digital content and playing it when and where you want.

They have also become popular because anyone with a microphone, computer, software and a net connection, can produce one themselves.

Their rising popularity is challenging conventional radio's broadcasting and business model. As a result, many radio stations such as the BBC are making their shows available as downloadable MP3 files.

Apple first announced it was tapping into the demand for podcasts last month, when its boss Steve Jobs showed how iTunes would let people access, organise and sync-up shows to any digital music player.

"This is really going to drive podcasting to the next level," said Stan Ng, director of iPod worldwide marketing.

"We really are embracing podcasting, making it easy for people to manage, listen and subscribe to podcasts."

Podcast gatekeeper?

People can access a directory of podcasts through Apple's online music store. At the moment there are 3,000 free audio shows available worldwide.

iPod Mini
People will be able to bookmark podcasts on the new iPods
"We've tried to include as many as possible," said Mr Ng, adding that iTunes has a system for people to submit their podcasts to be included in the directory.

He explained that the submissions would go through an editorial process to make sure there were no copyright issues or that they did not include objectionable content.

"We're not trying to be the gatekeeper of podcasting," he insisted. "We wanted to make it easy for people to publish their podcasts."

Having podcasts as part of the iTunes music store opens up the possibility selling them, just like music.

But Mr Ng refused to be drawn on the issue. "We haven't announced any fee-based podcasts at this time."

Apple has also updated its iPod line with colour displays and lowering prices. A software update for the click-wheel iPods and the iPod minis will offer a podcast menu, including bookmarking and the ability to show podcast artwork.

But Apple has not said whether it will be releasing updated software for older models.

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