Yahoo Designs Podcast Development Tool

Specifics of the upcoming tool are scarce, but a Yahoo manager says the company is looking to make the whole production process easier, including posting video.
Yahoo! Inc. is working on a development tool to make it easier for people to produce and publish podcasts, Joe Hayashi, senior director of product management, told TechWeb Friday.

At the first Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference 2005 in Ontario, Calif., Hayashi declined to provide specifics on the project, but said the challenges podcast publishers face are based on not understanding the technology behind the publishing tools.

Another difficulty is putting together the RSS feed, and publishing and hosting the podcast. "People have a personality to create the audio, but they fall down on understanding the technology from XML to RSS or iTunes tag," said Hayashi. "Broadly speaking, those are the challenges."

Yahoo! also is looking at ways to make it easier for podcasters to produce video content. The format to produce the podcast requires a different "content capture method" than audio, something Yahoo hasn't focused in it's subscription media service in the past.

Yahoo! jumped into podcasting about a month ago when it launched the podcast search engine Yahoo Podcasts at The site is offered as a beta service where people can go to find and download podcasts from the Web based on keywords. "Finding a podcast was like going into Blockbuster after an earthquake," Hayashi said. "There is a playback control for people who want to speed through the content."

There is a need to make podcasting easier to publish. Tim Bourquin, founder and CEO at TNC New Media, the creator and organizer of the Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference 2005, estimates there are more 25,000 published podcasts on the Web. "That number is anecdotal from talking with people and seeing what's posted on iTunes," Bourquin said. "No one has a firm number."

The lure to podcasting is anyone can create one. It's still too difficult to make a podcast. Yahoo is working to change that. The unconfirmed buzz at the conference is that Google also is designing a development tool to create and publish podcasts. "It will take an all inclusive development tool before podcasting takes off," Bourquin said. "You still have to be a geeky technology person to produce and post a podcast, or at least know someone to help you."

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