Yes, the podcasts are a bit mystifing on theface of it...especially the last 4 or 5. They are extremely enjoyable, and actually could compete quite happily with the LL Video Journal. They give interesting insights into the photographers, but surprisingly little into Lightroom or into the photographer's impressions of Lightroom, which I assumed was the main point. Admittedly, Richard Morgenstein, for one, talks up the B&W conversion tools with great enthusiasm, but for example I'd be more interested in hearing at least some of Peter Krogh's views on Lightroom as a DAM tool. He is the de facto chief guru in this area, after all... It is a delicate issue, but sooner or later the question of comparison is going to have to addressed - basically, do all these people really find that Lightroom is a killer application, or is it simply an interesting alternative to the tools they're already using in production ? The impression that Richard Morgenstein gives is that there are interpretations of his photos that simply would not have occured to him outside of Lightroom - that is a pretty powerful message.
I have an impression (an impression - not an opinion, however misinformed) that the technical resources on Lightroom are quite limited, although maybe they're ramping up now. I think it was a clever move to do this Iceland thing - it appears expensive, but in terms of marketing budgets and bang for buck, I reckon it is a bargain. The public beta could be considered as an alternative to expensive market research, although it is very much a double edged sword - and the Adobe forums are so slow and unusable I think they probably filter out a lot of participation.
I would expect a shipping date to be announced at Photokina - that leaves a 3 month window of opportunity to meet the 2006 intention, and it seems like the right place to do it.