Peter Kafka

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Apple Gives Podcasts a Gentle Push Out of iTunes

Podcasts were supposed to be a big deal several years ago, but that boom never happened. Now there’s at least anecdotal evidence that the format is actually picking up steam, as creators, listeners and advertisers warm to the format.

So why have podcasts disappeared from the new version of iTunes that Apple started showing to developers this week?

Because Apple plans on giving the recordings their own bit of digital turf.

People familiar with Apple’s plans tell me that when its new iOS 6 software becomes widely available this fall, podcasts will have their own app, where users will be able to discover, download and play them on mobile devices. Users who access iTunes via laptop and desktop machines will still find them in that version of iTunes, though.

Apple has made a similar housekeeeping move before: Last year, it broke up the iTunes player app into separate video and music apps. And when it launched iBooks in conjunction with the iPad in 2010, it made the book reader a separate app as well.

The iTunes U lecture series has also gotten its own app, though you can still access the downloads through the main iTunes player on mobile devices.

Apple also required iBook buyers to use the specialized app to buy their texts. But it has continued to lump all of its audio and video together in the iTunes store. So the move to push podcasts completely into their own space may signal an effort to put iTunes on a diet, something many Apple fans have asked for.

More evidence for that theory: A report that Apple will also move its iTunes U out of iTunes, too.

No comment from Apple.

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