Today marks the 10th anniversary of Apple's now-fabulously successful App Store.
No, it's not in the same league as the invention of the car or even the air conditioner. But it many ways, it may be close.
For us at Jacobs Media, it was a memorable moment. Not long after Apple's breakthrough with mobile apps, we took a flyer and launched jacapps. More than 1,200 apps later, it's been quite a ride.
And there have been other of these “moments in time” since the turn of the millennium that remind us of the invention of the iPod, apps, the iPhone, and Facebook. And that's why many openly wonder whether the debut of the Amazon Echo – better known as “Alexa” – isn't another of those moments.
That's the way Pacific Content's Steve Pratt sees it. He refers to the rise of the smart speaker era in 2018 as an “iPod Moment.” And he'll get no argument from me. We saw smart speaker ownership almost double from 2017 to 2018 in Techsurvey – from 11% to 21%. Yup, that's iPhone-level growth – and our survey was fielded more than six months ago.
In a recent article published in Medium, Steve outlines the metroric rise of smart speakers, and what it may mean for podcasting. He makes the case that consumers are looking for different content at different times throughout their day – short-form during the daylight hours, and longer segments of programming at night.
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Quoting Edison data, Steve also notes how content might be tailored to various room in the home.
And he saves the best for last – the creation of custom smart speaker content that matches lifestyle needs, based on routine and habit, spending time with others, solitary usage, and even the launch of personalized radio stations on these platforms to fit mood and environment.
It's thought-provoking stuff, and congruent with many of the discussions I've had with Steve Goldstein, Bob Kernen, and our SonicAi team. It became obvious to us early on that simply developing “skills” for Alexa was not a complete strategy. Brands need content plans that complement the ways in which consumers use smart speakers. And in fact, creating content – entertainment and information – just for smart speakers is an idea whose time has come.
So, let me connect a few more dots by adding one more statistical finding to the mix that dovetails perfects with Steve's premise, and the upcoming Podcast Movement conference in Philly.
I went back to our Techsurvey from last year because we asked a specific question to regular podcast users: “What are you typically doing when you're listening to podcasts?”
We learned that driving, working, relaxing, and exercising are all prime podcast listening activities, 45% say “hanging out at home” is their top thing to do while consuming on-demand content.
And given that smart speakers are now in roughly one in five homes – and growing at iPhone speed – we can intuit a huge opportunity for promoting and marketing podcasts. We know that consumers enjoy the convenience of voice commands, and as devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home proliferate, easy to access audio on the home front becomes even more powerful.
Given the “clunkiness” of accessing and listening to podcasts – a topic we discussed in a recent blog post entitled “Will Podcasting Ever Go Mainstream?” – a smoother runway using voice rather than apps or typing out a Google search could be that game-changer for the podcasting medium.
Podcasters should rally behind their new friend, “Alexa,” the cleanest, clearest path toward more downloads and more listening. The fact that more fans of on-demand audio select the home as their favorite podcast environment refocuses our attention on the residence as a listening location.
Not only are smart speakers a potential boon for broadcasters as AM/FM radios disappear from the homes, apartments, condos, and dorms, they may also be the catalyst needed to expand the podcasting tent.
So, ‘appy Birthday, Apple, and congratulations on the impact your App Store has made in just a decade. Ten years ago today, the store opened with a suite of 500 apps. Today, there well more than 2 million apps available – for free and for a fee. Apps have changed the way we do almost everything.
Now we usher in a new era of voice and smart speakers.
And maybe, just maybe, podcasting will come along for the ride.
Two great sessions on smart speakers are coming up soon. I'll be moderating a panel at Conclave, “Be So Good People Can't Stop Alexa To Play You,” on Thursday morning, July 19th. It features iHeart's Kevin LeGrett and Chris Williams who will be joined by Hubbard's digital wizard, Jeremy Sinon. There's still time to make the trek to beautiful Minneapolis/St. Paul next week. Registration info is here.
One week later, it's Podcast Movement and Jacobs Media's “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters Track.” On Wednesday morning, July 26, AmplifiMedia's Steve Goldstein leads a great panel: “Alexa, Let's Listen To A Podcast.” It features Spoken Layer's Will Mayo, Scripps' Rob McCracken, jacapps' Bob Kernen, and Beasley's Justin Chase. More info on Podcast Movement in Philly is here.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.