The Trouble with Apples

Update: Not long after posting, I got notification from Apple that the feed had been approved.  It will be a few days until it’s available everywhere.  I still stand by what’s below.

When I got a wild hare up my ass and decided to do this podcast, I thought my biggest problem would be getting people to sit down to talk to me, and getting people to listen.  While I’m still not sure about listeners, my problem is, instead, a matter of platforms.  I submitted EGaT to iTunes last week, and it entered Apple’s “approval queue” where it waits to be allowed to be listed on the iTunes store.  I realize that it was towards the end of the week, and stuff is probably not happening on Saturdays and Sundays, so it’s not completely surprising that it’s not been approved at this point.

This isn’t a complaint about time, but rather about the process itself; though Apple lists criteria for being included (and reasons why it might be rejected), the process couldn’t be more opaque.  Once you’ve submitted your request, it just disappears into the ether, with no means of checking on the status of the request.  For a company that advertises itself on the merits of being user friendly, their submission system is anything but.  When I did a quick Google search to see what sort of wait times I might expect, I read multiple horror stories of people waiting weeks or months with no update and no response from Apple when they tried to find out what was going on.  I really do hope that doesn’t end up being the case with EGaT, because I do like what we’ve done so far, very imperfect though it may be.  What I think this illustrates, though, is a larger problem with the way Apple and many other Internet services work; these podcasts, and whatever content they might bring, became victim of the walled garden.

Apple has, for some while, been operating with the walled garden model, most obviously with the advent of the iPhone, though before that with iTunes.  Instead of the wild and woolly Internet, Apple has been cultivating a selection of media and apps for their mobile device users, which some people like, but I think threatens the very creativity that Apple claims to foster.  Corporate censorship, and a large corporation deciding what people get to see, especially when it comes to their apps, is disturbing in any form.  Part of the reason I’m not an Apple user anymore is that I really don’t want someone else deciding what I can do with my property (my smart phone or media player), or what media I can consume.

Not being an Apple user, and being quite happy with the BeyondPod podcast app for Android as far as filling my podcast needs, I haven’t used iTunes in some years.  For some unknown reason, you must use iTunes to submit a podcast to the store, even though it’s a simple web form, and you need to have an iTunes store account (more on that, later).  What I found when I installed it left me less than enthused; after clunking around a bit, I was able to get to the submission form, but you have to have an iTunes account to submit.  That was fine by me, except that you must provide a credit card number to sign up for an account.  That was off-putting, but anything for my vanity project, so full steam ahead.  After going through all that, the podcast submission was rather easy, and once I made some tweaks, was done.  Now I wait, hoping that some unknown Apple employee decides to let me publish through their service, a service which is the de facto means of publishing podcasts.  Hopefully, my feed will go through, but even if it does, this whole process has been very discouraging for the future of online media distribution.