Podcasting is on the verge of setting off a video revolution and users of Apple Computer Inc.'s new video iPod can expect a deluge of outspoken commentary, religious sermons and pornography.
Podcasting, a term based on the name for Apple's portable media player, allows customers to download audio, and now video, segments for free to their computers and portable devices. Radio shows are among the most popular podcasts, but amateurs have helped turn podcasting into an eclectic global phenomenon.
Apple's video-enabled iPod models, announced on Wednesday, promise to stoke the fervor of home-grown broadcasters.
"I'm thrilled by the possibilities of combining devices," said 'Soccergirl,' whose opinionated and sexually suggestive program was listed among the 40 most popular podcasts on Apple's iTunes service.
The 26-year old librarian, who chooses not to reveal her real name, already produces short video segments that can play on viewers' computers.
The new iPods "will make it easier for many of my listeners to watch my video as easily as they listen to my show," she said.
Other early adopters of video podcasting are likely to include clergy of all stripes.
San Francisco-area pastor Tim Hohm, whose audio podcast is one of more than 1,400 religious offerings available on iTunes, says the new iPods represent "a fantastic opportunity" and believes video has the potential "to inspire tens of thousands to embrace a message of inspiration and hope."
The current crop of audio podcasters also includes entrepreneurial-minded Web journalists, some of whom are struggling to find a workable business model.
Media analyst Rafat Ali, whose paidcontent.org Web site focuses on the economics of digital content, forecasts many such start-up projects will fail due to lack of expertise and funding.
"Producing interesting video content is really hard," he told Reuters.
Success will depend largely on programmers' resources and ability to grasp the complexities of a medium that is much more complicated than audio, Ali said.
"It's a matter of how good is the quality and how do they get funded," he added.
Historically, pornographers have a strong track record of adapting new imaging devices and formats in a commercially viable way.
Mark Kernes, a senior editor at the Adult Video News trade magazine, said the highly-visible video iPod would certainly be used for adult content, but that many consumers might not want to show off their new material in public.
"Anybody that's got a video iPod is probably going to want to have a couple of porn clips on there, just to have," he said. "But you're not going to be looking at it at the mall."