Odeo Cripples Functionality

Odeo LogoOdeo seem to be updating and improving their services every other day of late. However, it is not every day that you see such a great service actually remove a feature and make it harder for users to utilise their service. They have indeed done so and perhaps in doing so shooting themselves in the foot.

One of the great features that is available to Odeo users is to have an "inbox". If you were to place a button on your website, be it blog or some other site you have enabled your readers to leave you audio comments by clicking the link. They get taken to a page that has a recording interface, which is simple and easy to use and the result is great audio. You as the user of Odeo get that recorded audio in your inbox once it is sent to you. You are notified of this by an email.

Another great feature is that you can subscribe to an RSS feed of your own inbox! So this is a great way to receive feedback on anything. Including podcasts. Seb and I saw it as a great way to get feedback for Global Geek Podcast, so we set up an account. The advantage of getting audio as feedback is that you could go to your inbox once you were notified and click the new Odeo comment that was left for you. You can listen to it. But the biggest feature was that you could click a "download as MP3" button and download the audio comment and insert it into a podcast! The result was excellent and we loved it.

The ability to download the MP3 has been removed from the play window! So what the hell is Odeo thinking in removing this key functionality. It means that it is impossible to download the audio from the page to your local machine. Rather it makes it a pain in the butt to do it.

I found that there is a work-around but it is messy: Open Audacity, set the source to "stereo mix" get ready to hit record… Open the Odeo message that you want to record. Flip back to Audacity and hit record, nip over to the Odeo page and click play. Go back and hit stop on the recording when it has finished. As I said messy. In addition the audio that you end up with is less than ideal and requires a bit of editing.

I am utterly dismayed as to why Odeo have removed this from their site. The only thing that I can think of is that they want users to listen to audio, only from them and not from another source. Perhaps they were not aware that the service was being utilized in this way and they have done it ignorantly, I just don't know. Sebastian has suggested that perhaps they are beginning to think about implementing a pay service and this has something to do with it. But since when has any site reduced their services as opposed to offering more. We are not the only podcast doing this. I can honestly say that if this situation remains as it is; the blogging and podcasting community could deliver some negative press, big time.

Global Geek Podcast has mentioned Odeo on every show that we have done. Not only that there is a link on the Global Geek Podcast website to Odeo, there is a link to Odeo on Rooster's Rail, Seb's Random Thoughts and we have plugged them for their service and functionality since utilizing their service. It is not like we have not given back to Odeo. This I feel is the thanks that we get.

Global Geek Podcast have sent off an email to Odeo in regards to this issue and we await a response, I will let you know what we get back from them when and if we do.

Update: Please check out the Follow-up Story



Today, I had cause to drop down to the local computer shop to pick up an audio lead for the computer. I would not normally drop in there to buy this particular lead but it was five in the afternoon and needed it for the podcast and wanted to test it. (Yes I am impatient).

Anyways I got into a bit of a conversation with three of the guys at the shop regarding what I needed the lead for and I said: “You guys heard of podcasts right, what do you listen to?”. Would you believe the answer that I got back was “…err no sorry, nope..ahhh no never heard of that” (cue: blank looks). What the heck, can you believe that! I was totally and utterly dumbfounded beyond belief.

So the upshot of the conversation was the following points:

  • None of them had heard of podcasting.
  • What they thought was a podcast was in fact a webcast.
  • None of them had heard of RSS (or atom or XML or OPML!)
  • None of them had listened to a podcast.
  • None of them had a C L U E !!!

I told them that to be honest I was totally and utterly surprised and speechless. (even my mates have listened to podcasts and subscribe to feeds and they are not geeks). I then went on to tell them briefly what the whole business is about but generally sent them in the direction of links to Wiki and some open source applications to get them started.

But the main thing I learned regarding the whole experience was that if this is the state of knowledge of people within the consumer electronics and computer industry then no wonder this technology remains in the geekosphere! No wonder I confuse my friends and family when I talk about this stuff, how can I expect them to know what I am talking about when supposed “geeks” don’t have a clue?

This then gets onto how I can “share” this technology with the people around me, as this is the only place I can really influence. What I have been doing is just telling people in very simple terms what it is all about. If they show and interest about the podcast and how to get it, I don’t even mention downloading it from the site. First, I tell them about the free applications like Juice that they can use to do it. It isn’t much but it is my little bit that might help others to get as much out of the internet as I do. And if they don’t investigate it right away; that’s cool but it might twig their interest later and that’s enough.

As for the computer shop boys… I really was dumbfounded… all three! Bloody hell. I can only shake my head, in realization that we have a long; long way to go before any of this is in any way “main-stream”.