Addressing Your Concerns
Thanks so much for all your well wishes and encouragement after the big announcement we made last week.
Today we’d like to address some of the concerns that have been voiced since our announcement. It’s human nature that some people assumed that the things we left out of our original blog post were somehow nefariously omitted. We feel that literally none of these concerns are warranted so we’re more than happy to tackle them head on and publicly.
But first, a brief note from the new guy: Hi, Owen here, and I’m thrilled to be part of the team at Pocket Casts. Like you, I’m an avid podcast listener and a HUGE fan of the Pocket Casts app. I consider it a privilege to be leading the team, and I hope to earn your trust by helping to improve the overall Pocket Casts experience for the benefit of all listeners and podcast producers. Our commitment to build an open platform stems directly from the mission-driven approach of our public radio partners — and we promise to ALWAYS respect your privacy. We also promise to take bold leaps with great new features that help you find your next favorite podcast, and most of all, have FUN! And while it may go without saying, the Pocket Casts team and I are on the same page regarding everything that follows. Can’t wait to take this ride with you!
Concern 1: This is just a play for radio producers to buy user data
It’s also worth pointing out that we’ve spent 8 years caring about the kind of data we do and don’t store about you, it’s literally the minimum amount required to run our sync service. If you don’t sign in and leave push notifications off, we literally have no data about you. That’s less than any other podcast platform we know of. If you choose to sign in we have your email address, password and data to sync to other platforms. If you turn on push we store the unique ID Apple gives us so we can send you push notifications. We find it so easy to justify this because every piece of data we store is to provide you with services, not us with your data.
Concern 2: Pocket Casts will now be used to exclusively push the content of the 4 podcast producers who bought it
It won’t. We remain an open podcasting app featuring podcasts from producers across the globe. We will continue to accept podcasts on every topic under the sun. We’re not in the business of censoring content on our platform. We’ll continue to feature unique and diverse content from all producers!
That said, we have and will continue to feature content made by NPR, WNYC, WBEZ and This American Life. They make great shows, and we’ve featured them long before we were involved with them, so that part isn’t going to change.
Concern 3: Pocket Casts will start pushing invasive ad technology on people
We’re not in the ad sales business. We’re not in the ad tech business. We’re in the building great products that people love business. We have no intention of changing that. We believe podcast producers all over the world need ways to make money, and while advertising is one of those ways, it’s not an area we’re interested in.
Concern 4: Pocket Casts will start tracking users locations
This one perplexes me, but hey we did say we’d address everything. We don’t need your location data. We don’t want your location data. We won’t be collecting or storing your location data. Where you go day to day is none of our business…I have no idea why people even think we’d do that.
We have for years had aggregate data about which regions of the world our user base is in, but this is in the form of how many people are in a particular country, not specifically where individually people are. We use this data to figure out which markets we should translate and localise to, as well as what kind of country-specific features we should be supporting. This for example drove some of the localisation work we’ve done to the new web beta because we knew what countries to focus on first.
Concern 5: All of the above is well and good, but what if things change?
That said, we have no intention of standing still. Our app will continue to grow and evolve, as it has since we launched in 2010. We intend to keep innovating in ways that make the experience better for you, the listener, and all producers. That’s what we do — that’s who we are. We all use this app everyday, we always have. We want to improve on what we’ve built — and we know you want that too!
Concern 6: If all of the above is true, why would 4 of the biggest radio producers even bother to buy Pocket Casts?
That’s an easy question to answer for those that know a bit about the podcasting industry. The industry is amazing because it’s open. Anyone can publish a podcast and distribute it everywhere. No podcast is treated differently than another. However, “open” is not the default state of markets as they mature, as we’ve seen in other content businesses. When power is consolidated into the hands of just a few closed platforms, creators rarely win. And we care deeply about the fate of podcast producers everywhere.
It’s our mission to ensure that this doesn’t happen. If we succeed, we all benefit. If we lose, well, we feel it was a thing worth attempting. In the meantime there are some steps we need to take to get where we want to go, and we’ll talk about those when we’re ready. It’s early days, but we’re really excited for the future. Hope you all are too!