Podcasting startup Odeo.com launched a bunch of new things during the last few weeks. They rolled out a beta version of their new player interface, leaving out a lot of clutter. Who needs a search box anyway? Actually, that one should have stayed, if you ask me.

Odeo got much more buzz for another website that isn't Podcasting-related at all - at least not for now. Twttr is some sort of SMS hub that allows you to broadcast short messages from your phone to all your friends. It also publishes them on the web, so everybody can see that Jason Cosper spent his weekend "drunk and sitting on a diving board."

Twtttr provoked some very strong reactions from the blogosphere. Om Malik apparently loves it. Or maybe he just tried to poke fun at teen SMS lingo, ending every second sentence with an exclamation mark. Not really sure about that.

Michael Arrington from Techcrunch on the other hand seems to be more mixed about Twttr:

"The fact that this is coming from Odeo makes me wonder - what is this company doing to make their core offering compelling? How do their shareholders feel about side projects like Twttr when their primary product line is, besides the excellent design, a total snoozer?"


And then there is this other side project: Hellodeo.com, which first of all is a great example for a really bad name. Hell, Odeo, what were you thinking? That aside, the idea is pretty cool: Hellodeo gives webcam users a chance to record a short video snippet and e-mail it to their friends or integrate it into their website. I can see this becoming really popular with the Myspace crowd. But again, what's the connecton to Odeo, the Podcasting startup?

I sense a strategy somewhere behind all that mess. Odeo early on tried to establish Podcasts as a new way of narrowcasting to your friends. You could record some audio and then put it into your girlfriend's download queue. Unfortunately this idea never really took off. Maybe the rising stars of Podcasting with their hundreds of thousands of passive listeners just didn't make it look likely that this could be a two-way, narrowcast type of medium as well.

Now Odeo is trying new things like cell phone messaging and personal online video. Both are still limited by their medium. Flash videos can't be downloaded, SMS doesn't offer much context. But eventually this could all come toghether and be part of a social narrowcasting application. Record a video with your cell-phone, upoad it to Odeo - and it will be available to your friends on whatever platform or end device they like. Let them answer with their webcam - and download it via RSS enclosure to your Wifi-enabled MP3 player.

This isn't Podcasting in it's "we want to revolutionize the broadcasting world" spirit anymore. But then, radio revolutionaries never really needed a Flash-based web editor to record their shows. Myspace kids on the other hand might acually think this is hella cool.