One of our customers asked me if Blackberry devices can get Podcasts. I told him "of course," and then realized I should check.
It seemed to me that any device that is:
- Connected to the internet.
- Has a Web browser.
- Has local storage.
- Can run simple programs.
Should be able to find and download podcasts. I knew that Apple iPhones were good at grabbing podcasts--I've seen big pick ups in the traffic for all of our feeds, partly because of the iPhone's popularity. I also had heard that the new Android phones (based on a Google operating system) were good for podcast listening. So, why would Blackberries be different?
Well, it seems that until earlier this year, there were limits on how much bandwidth Blackberries could use in a given time period. This limit seems to have been imposed by RIM and its network providers, to keep from overwhelming their networks. If you wanted to download a podcast, you had to either go after one that was really small (under 5MB) or use a work around method.
The new Blackberry Storm handsets seem to have come with improved bandwidth and new "apps" that make it easy to find and subscribe to podcasts. So, my original answer turns out to have been somewhat right--newer Blackberries can get podcasts.
However, there is a cause for caution in this story. The iPhone has caused a huge run up in network traffic that is already causing delays, lost connections, and dissatisfaction among some iPhone users. As more smart phones ship from more vendors, this problem is going to get worse. A point could come in the future where streaming video, video downloads, and podcasts are all "throttled" by carriers in one way or another.
We could try to cope in several ways. A simple change would be to force podcatchers to be intelligent about their file requests. As I have mentioned before, some podcatchers will request the same file many times because they do not bother to check to see if they have already downloaded it. We could also compress our files more or lower our audio sampling rate (although that might bother those who are trying to podcast high quality music!). And, we could break up our episodes into smaller sub episodes--perhaps with instructions to stitch them back together, once they have all been downloaded.
In any case, something good happened and we don't have to worry yet, about the bad stuff. We welcome another community of 28.5+ million users to podcasting. There is plenty for you to listen to and enjoy, and we are glad to have your attention.