Player FM makes podcasts look cool again

Podcasts may have fallen a bit out of fashion lately, but the new cloud-based podcast playback and discovery platform Player FM hopes that you’ll give the medium another chance. Launched by former Googler (s GOOG) Michael Mahemoff just a few days ago, Player FM allows users to aggregate their personal podcast subscriptions online and play them on any computer or mobile device, right within the browser – no additional software required.
Mahemoff, who is a self-professed podcast fan, told me via email that his biggest motivation was the high barrier of entry for prospective listeners. “Getting into podcasts has been too hard for too long,” he said. has only been up for a few days, but early observations led him to believe that most people would rather have an option to play individual podcasts on demand than subscribe to them via iTunes (s AAPL) or any other podcast software. That’s why puts a big emphasis on cross-platform web playback. From the site’s FAQ:

Player FM runs nicely in most modern smartphone and tablet browsers, including iPhones, iPads, and many Android devices… In most cases, you can switch to another app and the track will keep playing. On iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches, you can also control playback on the lock-screen, just like with iTunes.

Player FM currently allows users to browse a curated directory and listen as well as subscribe to various podcasts. Each user’s subscriptions are aggregated in one single, personal feed, which can easily be shared with others as well. Mahemoff told me that he wants to add additional social features as well as the ability to review and curate podcasts. “Knowing what to listen to has always been a barrier with podcasts and I hope Player FM can improve the situation,” he told me.
But making podcasts more accessible is only one side of the coin for Mahemoff. He also wants to to help enhance the podcast standards to add options for micropayments through services like Flattr. This would make it possible for listeners to tip a podcaster with the click of a button.
Speaking of revenue: Mahemoff is also evaluating options to bring advertising to Player FM, but he believes that ad formats haven’t adapted to the world of podcasting yet. “In podcasts, everyone hears the same ad, no matter who they are or where they’re listening, and publishers cannot track effectiveness,” he told me, adding: “There’s a real opportunity to make ads more useful to listeners and more efficient for publishers. And if it supports more spoken-word content, that’s good by me!”
Image courtesy of Flickr user  zigazou76.