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Podcasting has turned out to be one of the most important technologies to emerge in the last year.

At the beginning of 2005, most people, even tech geeks, had no idea what podcasting was. Since then, thousands of podcasts on all sorts of topics have emerged. Radio has rushed to embrace podcasting, with attitudes shifting from "who cares" to "how do we make money at it?" As we approach the end of 2005, sites like AOL and Yahoo are adding podcasting search to capitalize on the rise in interest in podcasting.

Just as podcasting was a major emerging technology in 2005, video podcasting, or vlogging, promises to be the breakout technology for 2006.

What's Video Podcasting?

Video podcasting, or vlogging, is using RSS news feeds to syndicate and distribute video content. All types of video podcasts are emerging, including personal video blogs, humor, news, educational and religious content.

Though video podcasts have been around for over a year, they haven't hit the mainstream yet. The biggest stumbling blocks to wider acceptance have been a lack of content and the complexity of downloading and using them.

Recent announcements from Apple go a long way towards addressing these issues.

Apple's latest lineup of hard-drive based digital media players all support video playback. The iPods support H.264 video up to 768 kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per second; and MPEG-4 video up to 2.5mbps, 480 x 480, 30 frames per second. Apple has added video content to the iTunes Music Store, which will make it easy for anyone to try it out.

Apple is also supporting video podcasts within iTunes. The software lets you subscribe to video podcast newsfeeds, and it will automatically download new content as it becomes available.

With these changes, Apple now offers users a complete solution for automated video subscriptions, and a device that lets users take video content with them anywhere. With iPods selling as fast as Apple can make them, Apple will create an audience of potential video podcast viewers in the millions within a just few months.

Why Video Podcasting Matters

It would be easy for ebusinesses to dismiss video podcasts as a hyped-up version of Internet video. That would be a mistake, though, because it's likely that video podcasting will become a standard distribution platform for video content.

Why? Video podcasting is a simple and open platform for distributing free video content via the Internet. It's simple enough that anyone with a video camera and Internet access can create one. It's based on RSS 2.0, which is an established, easy-to-understand spec, and can be extended if needed to accommodate future needs.

For video content creators, video podcasting offers a way to deliver content directly to viewers. This offers many benefits for content creators:

* It cuts current distribution networks out of the loop

* It drives down distribution costs

* It avoids content limitations imposed by the FCC

* Content creators can reap the advertising revenue directly

* It makes content of niche interest more feasible to produce

* Content producers can directly measure download "audience"

This adds up to an important new Internet-based communication channel emerging within the next few months - one that ebusinesses can't afford to ignore.

It's too early to be sure how video podcasting will evolve. With video-ready iPods selling like hotcakes, though, it looks like video podcasting will be one of the hottest new Internet technologies in 2006.


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