Last week, I received an invitation to try out Odeo, a podcasting service currently in beta, launched earlier this year.
What is Odeo? From the FAQ:
Odeo consists of three major parts: A catalog of audio content, of all types, which is constantly being added to. The Odeo Syncr, which let’s you download anything in the catalog (and, optionally, put it on your MP3 player). And creation tools, including the Odeo Studio, which let you publish your own audio content, which will then show up in the catalog. (The creation tools aren’t ready for public use yet, though.)
If you want to know more about the company and who's behind it, see How Odeo happened.
So, I've taken my first real look at Odeo today. When I first logged in and created an account, one thought I had was re what else is already out there in terms of finding podcasts and how would Odeo differentiate itself. There are loads of directories. Indeed, you're almost spoiled for choice at the moment of where to find increasing numbers of podcasts. Then there's Apple's iTunes Podcast Directory which looks like it will contain thousands of podcasts.
As the FAQ says, it's a catalog, a directory, with MP3 files organized by tags or categories. Unlike other directories, though, you have a much easier way to choose the content you want to subscribe to as you can get concise descriptions of each show plus the option to preview them (listen) before you download.
This reduced-size screenshot might give you an idea of that:
To download podcasts, you use the Odeo Syncr, a desktop applications based on iPodder. Once you subscribe to some shows on the Odeo website, you set them up to be retrieved by the synchronizer app, which then behaves just like iPodder, ie, it fetches your shows. Is this real podcasting, ie, making use of RSS as the delivery mechanism? No, but does that matter to the average user?
Odeo is an interesting concept. I can see some great possibilities as a paid-for service, giving it some exclusivity. Right now, though, I can't see what a differentiator could be if it's just another open-access podcast directory (once it's out of private beta), no matter how sexy-looking it all is. The Odeo Studio creation tool looks like the big thing, but that's not available yet and I haven't seen what it looks like nor what it can do.
I'll be trying it out a little more over the next couple of weeks, so more commentary to come.