If you aren’t someone who is part of the podcast business (disclosure: I make the majority of my income from podcasting), you might not realize that Apple is the dominant player in the field. That dominance is driven by two factors: its definitive directory of podcasts, and the built-in iOS Podcasts app, which drives the majority of podcast listening on the planet.

The slow shift from radio to on-demand audio continues, and companies are noticing. Investment in podcast companies is up, listening is growing, and the podcast advertising market continues to expand. Yet despite its dominance, Apple seems strangely uninterested in podcasting.

It started with the iPod

Apple reached this point because in 2005 it noticed that people were going to great lengths to load the first podcasts onto its iPod music player, and decided to make some effort to make the process easier. Apple released a new version of GarageBand with additional podcast-focused features, created a directory of podcasts using the iTunes Store framework, and updated iTunes to support podcast subscriptions directly. You still had to attach your iPod directly in order to download new episodes, which was not the best, but it beat the old method of loading podcast audio files into iTunes, marking them as songs or audiobooks, and syncing them manually.

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In 2005, iTunes 4.9 allowed for podcast subscriptions. Then you could load the content to an iPod.

The brief podcast boom of 2005 didn’t really go anywhere, but it put Apple in the perfect position in the early days of the iPhone. Here was a device that could update podcasts on the fly, and Apple eventually got the message and built its own podcast app. Nobody else had succeeded in replicating the iTunes podcast directory, and all of a sudden Apple was the biggests player in a growing media industry.

In the intervening time, Apple has not done a lot with podcasts. GarageBand’s long since been stripped of all its podcast-focused features. The Podcasts app on iOS keeps getting better, and Apple recently added some anonymized statistics so that podcast publishers can now get rare access to information about how many people are listening to their podcasts, and what parts of the episodes they listen to. (The data is limited by the fact that it’s opt-in and only for Apple’s own app, but it’s still a treasure trove of data that has told us… exactly what we all expected, which is that most people listen to most episodes of a podcast, and only a small percentage skip the ads.)

The rise of the rest

Meanwhile, the world is full of companies that are far more focused on podcasts than Apple is. Companies affiliated with public radio stations in the U.S. have pounced on the medium, which has given them access to new and large audiences for their work. Many startups have been launched to produce, distribute, and sell ads on podcasts.

One of the more recent trends is a desire for even more statistics about how people listen to podcasts. Sales executives spoiled by the nitty-gritty details of web advertising are frustrated by the fact that, with the exception of statistics from apps such as Apple’s Podcasts, there’s no good way to tell anything beyond when someone downloads an episode. They want more. Recently, National Public Radio promoted something called RAD, a specification that would relay information about how you use your podcast app back to the publisher for data-collection purposes.

It seems like a tough sell to the makers of podcast apps—they’d have to do a lot of engineering work in order to support something that would not really benefit their users while diminishing their privacy. Apple’s insistence on anonymizing user statistics and having users opt in to their system would suggest that it wouldn’t embrace a system as broad as RAD. But the push on behalf of more invasive advertising metrics is on, regardless.