As regular readers of this blog would know the Zune will ship without podcasting support software. But that is okay, what Microsoft could not or would not deliver an independent 3rd party developer has managed to do just fine. Not as hard as Microsoft would have you believe. But then podcasts are free quality content, there is no money in that.
Feed Your Zune™ is a featured RSS reader and a media player. It has some great features and looks to be very slick and well designed. It is a pity there is not more about the features on the site or some larger screenshots. With this development so close to the release of the Zune it beats me why Microsoft failed to deliver a product that could give the user access to features such as:
- Automated downloads of video and audio content and synchronisation to your Zune
- RSS playback of Video Podcasts, supporting all video formats
- Built in channel guides from Network2 and FireAnt (with the promise of more to follow)
- Open web architecture supporting RSS, Bit Torrent and permalinks
- The ability to create playlists, favourites and manage disk space
The program is a pretty hefty 12MB download. But it looks very shiny with a clean design and lots of functionality. The interface looks simple and uncluttered with a typical looking RSS feed layout. Clearly some time has been invested to bring a quality product. Did I mention that it is free? It even looks a bit like Windows Media Player 11, I wonder if this was a jibe. Or was it good marketing, to give the user a strong brand association with a product that they know?
We talked about the Zune release on the latest episode of The Global Geek Podcast. My co-host Knightwise; suggested that perhaps the lack of Zune podcasting support was due to the fact that podcasts are free. Microsoft would not be interested in promoting free content when they are trying to push their own online music store. With the quick release and functionality of this client it does not seem to have been beyond the reach for Microsoft to have provided something like this on release. So perhaps his opinion has some weight. Money may well come first for Microsoft, at the expense of making podcasts more accessible to the user.
This could also make way for other 3rd party applications to be developed in the near future. I hope so. As has been proven time and time again it is often the first iteration of a product in which users make their choice, anything else is a clone. Digg and YouTube are good examples of this trend. In which case users may well disregard and openly reject any offering from Microsoft that supports podcasting in favour of the applications that they are used to. Microsoft could have just shot themselves in the foot. Or will it be another case of the browser/operating system scenario? Where built in software overrides any other third party application to the point it is impossible to use anything but theirs.
If nothing else it will make the space well worth watching. So until Microsoft decides to counter offer have a look at Feed Your Zune™ to keep your Zune happy and well fed.
UPDATE: The links for this site are now dead.