Google Podcasts were to be the next big frontier in the podcasting world. We first heard about their efforts at Podcast Movement last summer in Philadelphia. As one of the keynote sessions, Google Podcasts’ Zack Renau-Wedeen was interviewed about his company’s efforts in the podcast space.
Mr. Reneau-Wedeen gave us cause for optimism, throwing out ideas such as using Google’s AI to transcribe podcasts and letting relevant podcasts come up in search results. Certainly a major player like Google could really advance the podcast space. If they created an app for Android that’s as intuitive as Apple Podcasts on iOS, there’s a market of 2 billion Android users worldwide that can become avid podcast listeners.
But sadly, Google has not thrown their weight into podcasting. 5 months after that presentation, Google Podcasts still account for only 1% of podcast listening. This was one of many pieces of disappointing news presented this week by podcast guru Steve Goldstein, in his blog Why Is The Google Podcasts App Failing So Hard?
Here is what we know. Today, podcast listening is an Apple thing by a 5 to 1 margin over Android. Apple’s Podcasts app is native in IOS, so every user has the purple app on their phone. But smartphones are largely an Android thing in the U.S. and around the world. 55% of U.S users and 86% of the world are on phones with the Android operating system.
In the article, Goldstein talks to several podcast industry pros. They include Libsyn’s Rob Walch, Blubrry’s Todd Cochrane, and my former podcast co-host: Jacobs Media’s Seth Resler. In fact, Seth and Rob illustrate the biggest head-scratcher about Google Podcasts:
Resler: While Google’s Podcasts app is technically pre-installed on all Android phones – it’s a “contextual app” that automatically opens when you click on certain links — nobody knows that it’s there because there is no homescreen icon.
Walch: It is not truly native – there is not that moment when someone unboxes a new Android device and looks around at the pre-installed apps and finds Google Podcasts.
The entire panel had great insights, as expected, but here’s my big takeaway:
Google doesn’t seem to be embracing podcasts. Yet study after study that shows a meteoric rise in podcast consumption. So the door is now open for third party apps on Android. Find an Android user you know who likes podcasts. Chances are they are listening on Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, or something else. If those apps want to compete in the podcast space, they should start with Android, and take advantage of Google’s short-sightedness.