Coming Contextualized Podcast Listening

By Rob Greenlee

Many have said, over the past 10 years that podcasts were just too difficult to find and know how to listen to them.  I would agree that was the past and that past perceptions like this create a delay in the realization that something new is about to be born that will revolutionize the podcasting or on-demand spoken-word audio market we know today.

“I believe that 2015 and 2016, will bring the most profound improvements to on-demand spoken-word podcast market since iTunes added a podcasts area.”

This next year or so will show us a synergy of some very important areas that in combination will be explosive to the podcasts market.

The opportunity areas are smartphone personal agent technology that we have been seeing slowly develop like Siri, Cortana and Google’s agent technology this is currently nameless.  The other areas of important improvement are around in-car dash listening and most importantly the focus on content and the businesses that support at a very high level.

This smart agent technology is deriving out of what is called “machine learning” and is a growing focus in the tech sector that is driving the convergence of inputs from mobile device sensors, location beacons, artificial intelligence and big database stores of personal data. These technology evolutions are driving a more contextualized experience on all of our mobile devices.

You are asking at this point, “What is contextualized mobile experiences and how is this going to impact my podcast listening?” 

The answer is fairly simple and when you hear it, that light bulb in your brain will go on and you will say that makes sense.

The answer is that our mobile devices will become more and more aware of what you are doing, where you are and what you like to do and when you like to do it.  Then based on all the sensor and personal data these smart agents have access to about you, then they will start to predict and suggest what, when and how we will live our daily lives.

In many ways we are already living this contextual world, but the difference is the predictive nature of the next generation of 8 processor cores and then 12 and 16 core mobile devices that are coming in the next few years.  I believe that we will see cloud connected devices with huge processor power that are connected to huge server farms being built by Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook.  These server farms and future devices will know you like you have never known yourself.

To give a little perspective and real world example of this trend, the recent Apple purchase of mobile app podcast playback platform called Swell had as much to do with machine learning and context as podcasting.  Swell was laser focused on obtaining data signals from app usage, social media and device location to help personalize the audio playback experience.

This contextual future in combination with the growing embrace of the broadcast radio side and the increasing quality and variety of content is setting the stage for a huge growth pattern for podcasting and on-demand audio.  We have the pending battle between generations of spoken-word audio listeners who mostly span local and national content. We are seeing a significant trend around in-car streaming audio versus broadcast radio listening.

“I believe that car in-dash streaming audio playback is going to be a major inflection point for podcasts with the coming deployment of Apple’s “CarPlay” with 3G and 4G internet connected app experience that will be driven by mobile device and direct to the car wireless data plans.”

Young people today don’t listen to much radio and mostly digital music platforms, but older people tend to listen to more spoken-word radio and on-demand podcasts. The good thing about the younger generation is that they become older and that will help drive the future in-car streaming audio platforms that will increasingly be connected with our devices smart contextual driven user agents like Siri and Cortana.

This means that your mobile device, car, home and office will be places that your device knows the spoken-word podcast content you like and delivers content listening and advertising suggestions that are relevant to your calendar, location, activity and most of all interests that have all been obtained though the world around you and the personal data you have put into your cloud enabled devices. This may or may not be a good development, but it will make listening to spoken-word podcast content much easier then today.

Originally distributed in Podertainment Magazine.

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