At various times I’ve heard both Andy and Ken on KenRadio talk about how they miss Pointcast. While I’m sure there are some network administrators who would disagree with this, I liked Pointcast as well. I think the technology is there to replicate it, the question becomes: who, if anyone, will do it?
The technology that makes a Pointcast possible today is RSS. RSS gives you a way to keep tabs on a website or any other form of content. An RSS reader periodically polls an RSS feed for changes. The reader can then display or download new content as it is published in an RSS feed. Sound like Pointcast yet?
One widely used application that employs RSS is Apple’s iTunes. It has a wide user base, given that 3 out of every 4 people that have a portable media player use iTunes (because they have an iPod). That large userbase would give Apple, if they chose to do so, the ability to recreate the Pointcast client. All Apple would have to do would be to incorporate an text-based RSS reader and list websites in the iTunes Music Store much like they do podcasts.
Suddenly, Apple positions itself to know everything you read, hear, or watch using your computer. They’ll have all kinds of data on their customers–data they can use to improve their products and improve the overall customer experience. Or they could use it for some nefarious purpose if Apple suddenly turns evil.
Originally I was thinking if Apple went this direction, it would be a good thing. As I think about the implications more, I’m not so sure. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this idea.