To date, Google’s podcast strategy has amounted to adding podcast support to Google Play Music. But the online giant is secretly working to bring podcasts to its entire digital ecosystem. And the way it is doing so is, frankly, pretty brilliant.
In a move that was first reported by a podcasting blog, Google is integrating support for podcasts into its core Search service. That way, your podcast listening experience will work seamlessly across your phone, PC, Google Home, and other devices.
“Our team’s mission is to help double the amount of podcast listening in the world over the next couple years,” Google’s Zack Reneau-Wedeen told the blog, called Pacific Content. “It’s largely going to be new people, and we’re really excited about what opportunities it will create if we can help bring them into the fold. Within our team, we think it’s an ambitious but achievable goal to have that population constitute a doubling of the industry size.”
If anything, that goal is perhaps too low.
We learned recently from Amazon that the success of its Echo devices, in particular with demographics—like old people and country music fans—that don’t typically turn to technology to solve problems, has opened up markets in unexpected ways. There is no reason to believe that Google, with the pervasiveness of Android and the quick success of Google Home, won’t see similar results.
In any event, this new effort is separate from Google Play Music’s podcast support, which makes sense: Users on both Android and Google Home can choose different default music players, and if they do, they will be locked out of that service’s podcast support. By making podcasts a separate, first-class experience in its ecosystem, Google can ensure that users can get to their podcasts from anywhere, and regardless of which music player they use. In retrospect, this is a fairly obvious move.
That this is happening without a discrete app in the Google Play Store—-or in Apple’s App Store, as this system will work via Google Assistant/Google Home on iPhone, too—is interesting. But not unexpected: If you accept that ambient computing is the next wave, then it makes sense that this sort of functionality requires only that Google’s Assistant understand and use this particular skill. Another app is not necessary.
Interesting stuff. I assume Google will detail its plans at Google I/O in May.