Keen to get their size nines stamped all over the fast-growing podcasting revolution, Yahoo have launched a spanking new podcast service designed to make it easy for punters to rummage through the zillions of audio files available and find the stuff that interest them.
The beta Yahoo Podcast service aims to let folks search podcasts by keyword, categories or user-generated topic coding (‘tagging’), with the home page flagging up notable podcasts, based on popularity, user recommendations and ratings.
Surfers will also be able to listen to or subscribe to RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds for individual shows, episodes or entire series.
“We intend to be the most comprehensive source for podcast content,” said Geoff Ralston, Yahoo!’s chief product officer.
The service will offer a unique feature that lets users find content quicker by speeding up playback without the the broadcaster’s voice sounding like Mickey Mouse on helium.
As Geoff Ralston explained in an interview with PodTech, “You can hear someone and understand someone talking at a much higher speed. The problem is that when you speed it up naturally the pitch goes up, but we done some work to lower the pitch down. So it actually stays relatively normal and much more comprehensible.”
Although Podcast search services aren’t new – companies like AOL, Blinkx, Odeo.com and Podcast.net already offer services – Yahoo’s heavyweight clout make this move significant, with Ralston commenting, “We feel like we are really getting ahead of the curve with this.”
Unlike rival Podcast search sites, Yahoo! isn’t bundling in tools for creating podcasts at the moment, although that’s likely to happen in the future, with Joe Hayashi, Yahoo!’s director of product management saying, “This is all about discovery for now. Step One is all about growing the ecosystem.
With search engines constantly trying to dream up new advertising revenue-boosting services to retain and attract punters, it can only be a matter of time before the other Internet big boys respond with their own Podcast services.