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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

The xPod

I listened to the Dave Winer / Peter Rojas / Jason Calacanis on their ideas for a podcast player (from CalacanisCast Beta 7).

Several points (as a follow on to my previous post):

  • I better grok why DRM kills this project. It just isn’t necessary for a podcast receiver, the complexity is too heavyweight, etc.
  • I think I’m coming around to the “no synchronization” approach. But only if the device can get all of its own content directly. If your desktop machine has to be a conduit for it; then synch is a necessary evil. That said, I would hate to have to use the device to enter feed URLs. Better would be to address a web server on the device with a UI that you can access from your desktop (or your smartphone) — of course, this opens up a whole different can of worms.
  • Dave Winer calls this device the xPod. I like it. Of course, Apple has shown that they won’t allow products with the word “Pod” in them. Why not call it the xRadio? Dave Winer says that this is like an Internet radio afterall. Or how about myRadio?

There was some discussion of the economics of the cheap device versus the powerful versus the right device. I’m with Dave Winer on this one. We want the right device, but I think that comes down to the software.

So, why worry about the hardware right now? Why not first write the software?

Here is what I think:

  1. Choose the existing software platform. Probably Rockbox, but also could be WM5 or Palm OS or Mobile Linux.
  2. Build the player and recorder software on this platform.
  3. Let hardware geeks get this to run on their existing devices.
  4. Then (and only then) revisit making a hardware reference platform and then (possibly) getting involved in manufacturing.

Like Peter Rojas says: Rockbox could use a champion. These 3 guys could easily be it. Spec out the software for this, get it written (for money or by open source contributors). People will adopt it.

This is one case where I think if you build it, they will come.

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