People have discovered that they can multitask, specifically, they can listen to something at the same time that they are doing something else. Perhaps they knew this already. Radio obviously built a business around this concept, so did the Walkman and iPod. The fact that news went from a few slots per day to round the clock hinted at this pent up need people have for always-on evolving entertainment that interests them.
It seems however that audio is exploding and consuming much more of people's daily attention these days. This is the story of the rise of the podcast. We also continue to explore related futuristic ideas for chatbots.
Podcasts have already been around for years and they have been growing in popularity. Something has happened recently, however, the popularity of audio has exploded.
The reason is twofold:
The ease of finding and listening to podcasts has improved greatly. The number of podcasts has exploded but the ability of people to identify and listen to podcasts they enjoy has also improved exponentially. One reason for this is the search capabilities are obviously far superior to what they were before. Another reason is social media allows content to go viral and find the people who would be interested in it. Another reason is that recommendation engines have improved to the extent that they are much better at figuring out what people will like.
It’s not just podcasts that have improved, it’s audiobooks as well. The selection of audiobooks available is huge and the quality of the production and narration is far higher than it used to be. People can listen to books in their downtime, especially while traveling, in ways that would have been difficult years ago. The payment process is also easy by using credit cards on file.
Now for the chatbot angle, especially the voice angle. As often is the case the chatbot story is about convenience and speed.
The convenience of using audio is still not perfect. It’s very easy to locate podcasts or videos but it could be easier.
Voice commands that worked perfectly could allow users to find the exact moment in the podcast that they are interested in and do many things. They could combine the functions of a number of applications, including in audio search and editing.
It’s true that these commands could be written or spoken but it’s more convenient for them to be spoken while watching the video.
There is no doubt that audio is becoming extremely popular for the reasons discussed. Audio’s popularity is set to grow as the convenience grows, but also as the amount of quality content produced increases.
Part of the reason that content exploded is because the internet solved the distribution problem, as anyone can broadcast unlimited content from anywhere and there is a large audience of potential interested followers. In many cases, this makes producing podcasts economically viable. The other reason for the explosion in content is that the cost of producing high-quality content in terms of price and effort has reduced significantly.
It is also true that the internet has enabled different types of content. For example, long-form content, which is not economic to show on TV, can be produced for a podcast and broadcast to the world. There is a large market for this content.
Nothing demonstrates the rise of the podcast better than the evolution of Youtube. Youtube was notorious for poorly made user content mainly focussed on animals, freak incidents and jokes. It seemed impossible that users would create anything that people might want to watch or listen to day after day for long periods. Now audio is a material part of Youtube use.
The combination of quality content and the convenience of voice no doubt mean that audio entertainment will become even more entrenched in people's daily lives than it already is.
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