Apple in the Fray?

According to Jon Udell, Apple has begun offering universities a free platform to publish spoken-word events such as lectures. I’ve already received two email messages asking me, in essence, “Does this mean Apple is competing with The Conversations Network?” The answer is No, and here’s why:

  • Apple accepts completed programs, whereas The Conversations Network starts with raw audio and provides extensive post-production and editorial services.
  • According to Jon, files hosted by Apple can only be downloaded by iTunes software. (According to others, the OS X version of iTunes can at least be used with non-iPod devices.)

Everything published by The Conversations Network can be downloaded and subscribed to using any podcatching software without any DRM (Digitial-Rights Management) restrictions. Our programs may be found and downloaded via iTunes as well as any other directory or using any other podcatching software.

5 thoughts on “Apple in the Fray?

  1. The comment by Jon is completely wrong. How do I know, I am working with iTunesU on my campus. All you need is the URL of the feed that you are interested in and it works fine from Juice, and, I assume, any other podcast receiver. In our implementation, the URL is located on the feed’s page and easily copied and pasted (Stanford’s pages do not display the URL), but if you want to try it out, subscribe to a Stanford feed, get info in the feed in iiTunes, type the incredibly unfriendly url into juice and download away. Can the casual user get the URL without going to iTunesU once, no, but the person in charge of the feed can choose to make that URL public through other dissemination methods, perhaps even other podcast directories. I have not tried that.

    Want to try it out? Here is a URL for one of Stanford’s public feeds:

    https://deimos.apple.com/WebObjects/ITCSBrowse.woa/wa/Subscribe/Feed_StanfordPublic-1770144-1770152–1770196_visitor$40indigo.apple.com_1139075983-c1ab26f74cb3d4f777fee726c25c1c6f8b7c2d90

    Also there is no DRM on iTunesU material. The file you upload is the file you download. Apple does not modify it in anyway. They told us DRM was not part of the package.

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  2. I should also add, my comments come from using the private side of iTunesU, The public may not allow display of the URL on the feed page. I do agree those URLs should exist outside iTunes so those of us who use platforms that iTunes does not support can get the feed, but that is up to the content provider. The URL is complex for reasons of authentication for content access control, it’s not ideal for public use, but it works well for use using it in the context of distributing course materials that can need some layer of protection from general distribution.

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  3. I think any discussion of whether iTunes U is competing with the Conversations Network is a bit of a moot point. The fact of the matter is that the recording and distribution of live event content is a *huge* market and ultimately there will be room for many players. Apple might do a good job with university content. The Conversations Network might be perfect for people who want to give away their live event content. Other players may appear on the scene who work with companies that want to charge for their content.

    Many thousands of events take place everyday around the world. There’s room for many service providers in this space.

    Jon Bischke
    Founder, LearnOutLoud.com

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  4. I think you should re-think what you said in the post. Your post doesn’t prove anything, even that Apple *isn’t* in competition with TCN, but just shows ways in which TCN is better than what Apple might be doing. That’s called competition.

    As an example, the people at Bloglines can’t say to FeedReader, “you guys aren’t in competition with us,” because however a different approach each may have, they’re still enabling the same thing: aggregating RSS feeds. But, I will agree that your case is different to the example, because a person won’t use the two aggregators on a daily basis, where as someone could single-handedly subscribe to both feeds, TCN and Apple, and get better value than just subscribing to TCN or Apple alone. In the end, you’d just be splitting your market share.

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  5. How are you getting the feed info from Itunes? I can see it in ‘Show Description’ but I can’t copy and paste it, and the URL is very messy.

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