How Apple Is Playing Fair With Podcasting… For Now

This weekend saw ‘For All Mankind’ return. The TV series is locked away in Apple’s premium TV subscription service, available only to those who have recently purchased an iDevice or are happy to pony up the annual fee.

So why is Apple’s accompanying official podcast available absolutely everywhere?

Occam’s Razer suggests that it’s a marketing lead, and that is certainly a part of it. At the same time the episodes of the podcast are effectively ‘behind the scenes’ and discussion points on the related episode; these are ‘post-show casts’ rather than ‘pre-show attractions.’

I’m more interested in the nuts ‘n’ bolts of the podcast, and what it says about Apple.

Why is it available everywhere? It should come as no surprise that my answer to that question lies with the open nature of podcasting. Now, if you do have an Apple device and you head into the Podcasts app on a Mac, iPhone, or iPod, you’ll find the ‘For All Mankind’ podcast easily enough with a big friendly subscribe button, and you’ll get the shows in your device.

It should also come as no surprise that there isn’t a handy button marked ‘Listen in Google Podcasts’, ‘Listen In Spotify’, or ‘Listen Using RSS’. This is an Apple podcast for an Apple property.

…ahem… Here’s the For All Mankind podcast, sitting on my Android phone, in the third-party podcast app Player.FM.

What’s going on here? The simple answer is really simple syndication. Underneath Apple’s shiny exterior and clean lines that tempt you into the Apple ecosystem, lies the open standard of RSS. You might not see the feeds, but they are there. It’s why creators just need to submit one address to Apple to be listed in the directory, it’s why you can manually add an RSS feed to any of Apple’s podcasting apps; it’s also why I was able to pull the RSS feed for the Official For All Mankind podcast out of Apple and into my favourite app (using this online handy tool).

For all the talk of Apple employing walled gardens and closed markets in the mobile space, its continued use of the open standard that continues to drive podcasting is refreshing and reassuring.

Long may it continue.