Apple and podcasts are almost synonymous. They have been intertwined from the beginning of the genre, as the very name podcast is taken from Apple's first major consumer electronics hit iPod. With all that history, it seems a little surprising that Apple never ventured into the room they gave an early home to, and later helped promote a prominent position in iTunes. But, according to the recent Bloomberg report, they're about to do just that.
You won't be much more connected to Apple than Mark Gurman, so the reports that Apple representatives meet with media reps and content providers to access exclusive content are probably true. He usually doesn't run with anything unless the information is good. This would indicate that Apple's subscription service missions are likely to go beyond television, news and games.
You know what this means. The usual suspects will turn their hands over Apple using their "monopoly power" as a platform provider to push the competition even further. I find it ironic that one of the suspects is Spotify, who has used his own "platform" to unlock podcasts for a while now. They also buy up podcasts for their own use. I don't see a problem either, as they were solid business flows that served their interests. I just don't care about the hypocrisy of those who put it around Apple or any other competitor.
As with streaming music, Spotify and others have pushed into newer territory, and Apple simply follows. While Apple doesn't really make money directly from podcasts, their primary market position is a source of prestige. It is also an extra feature and service that flows into a much larger ecosystem. When it comes to podcasts, it seems that Apple has wisely decided to trade before competitors like Spotify and Stitcher eat into their leading position. In other words, Apple learned his lesson when they were selling music for a long time before accepting that streaming is the future.
Apple takes the step of unlocking exclusive rights to any major podcasts or producing its own content is a natural next step for the company. It makes perfect sense and perfectly fits Apple's new focus on services. In fact, the only thing I find surprising is that it didn't happen before.