Still no iTunes love

Well, it’s been 13 days now, and still no placement of the CommunityGuy.com podcast in the iTunes Music Store directory.

And no notification of status.

And no indication of when/if my podcast will be listed.

And no indication or notification of what might be holding up the process.

And nary a peep out of Apple on a wide range of questions and issues.

Just to recap, Apple launched iTunes 4.9, which included built-in support for managing podcasts, as well as integration of podcasts into the iTunes Music Store. Since the launch 14 days ago (yes, two weeks!), there have been a number of significant issues come up that Apple has yet to address, or give any sort of feedback on whatsoever. None. Nada.

  • A marginal extension of the RSS standard, with little input or discussion with the development community. (Although it looks like there may have been some involvement outside of the single Adam Curry reference)
  • Badly written, and perhaps mistake laden specification for the RSS extensions that has yet to be improved, expanded, or even clarified by Apple
  • Feeds are being "hijacked", meaning that rather than display the actual RSS feed, Apple is displaying their version of it – which can mess with ad revenues for podcasters in a big way – which is particularly bad considering the cost of even a marginally successful podcast and the fact that most/many podcasts are free. It seems this may have gone away, maybe not. With Apple being completely absent from the discussion, we’ll never know.
  • No clarification or transparency into the acceptance process to be listed in the iTunes Music Store
  • A total lack of updates in the iTMS when the podcast RSS feed is updated – some podcasters (those who are lucky enough to make it into the directory) are only seeing some of the shows in their feeds show up, while others are updating their feeds daily, but only seeing some of the episodes show up in iTMS
  • Absolutely no two-way communcation with people submitting podcasts to the directory about the status of the submission. Two-way communication here could mean anything from simply sending an email to people saying that they’re reviewing or a way to view the status or your place in the review queue within your account in the iTMS

I also have to laugh that there’s a review process in place here. Apple is willing to promote the hell out of the latest 50 Cent album, but is worried that podcasters might say something that’s over the line?

At the end of the day, Apple has the right to do whatever it is they feel is appropriate or best suited for the discussion. What bothers me is not their choices, however poor, it’s the lack of transparency. They’ve just added a significant reasons to buy an iPod to their list of reasons. That significant reason is built on the backs of quasi-volunteers. They have a duty and an obligation to treat those volunteers, those donaters, with respect.

I understand that Apple may have wanted to avoid mindless, endless discussion about the best way to develop things. Sometimes it’s a better plan to simply develop something (hopefully with the input of the community leaders, if not the community overall) and then launch it. But that’s only half of the process.

If you’re going to launch something or develop something designed to target or at least include a very specific niche audience without their input, you must be present and open for discussion when it launches. Apple’s problems haven’t come from their lack of initial input, it’s come from their total absenteeism. Had Apple made a single announcement, blog post, forum post, or mailing list post about the issue, even something like "We’re working on getting you answers, we’ll have them soon", I probably wouldn’t be writing this post right now.

Community work is simple – just treat your community like you’d want to be treated. I can’t imagine a developer or project manager inside of Apple who worked on iTunes 4.9 who would want to be treated the way they’re treating the community.