NEW YORK With the number of both amateur and professional podcasts growing, new distribution methods are appearing to make the files easier to find.
Apple and multimedia search engine Blinkx.tv said they would begin offering users the ability to find free podcasts, Internet audio files that can be downloaded to MP3 players like Apple's iPod. Blinkx will allow podcast creators to submit their content for inclusion in its search index.
Apple has added over 3,000 audio files to its iTunes Music store, ranging from amateur podcasters to programs from established media outlets like the BBC, ABC News and Clear Channel. Blinkx added over 10,000 podcast feeds to its search engine.
Suranga Chandratillake, San Francisco-based Blinkx's CEO, said the search engine has seen a surge of user-generated multimedia content, primarily audio but also video. Unlike other search engines, Blinkx uses voice-recognition software to transcribe audio from files into text that is then matched to queries.
"It's like the Web in the early days—people are podcasting about everything," Chandratillake said.
According to survey of 2,200 U.S. adults conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, about 6 million said they downloaded a podcast.
Up until now, Blinkx has concentrated on striking deals with major video producers, like CNN and the BBC. Along with podcasts, Blinkx will also now include user-generated video clips it finds online, although Chandratillake said they would represent only 5 percent of the new content.
Blinkx is competing with Google, Yahoo and AOL to build multimedia search engines. Google added user-generated free video to its video search engine earlier this week. Yahoo and AOL have licensing deals with several major video producers for its content. AOL also owns Singingfish, a search engine for finding video and audio online.