I was surprised to learn whilst listening to my ‘Best of Moyles’ podcast today (yes I do listen to his show and I do find him funny!) that the podcast itself would be coming to an end from July 1st. Luckily that doesn’t mean that the actual feature will be coming to an end, I can still download and listen later on my iPhone, but the name will be changing… to ‘Free Download’.
What? I almost crashed my car trying to work out the thinking behind that one. Chris Moyles explained it as ‘[the BBC think] You don’t know what a podcast is, therefore the BBC are changing the name of the podcast’.
Is this really the thinking behind the change? I hardly think ‘Free Download’ explains what the product is any better. A free download could be many things, whereas a podcast is a show, normally audio, that is downloadable to your MP3 player to be listened to when you want. Perhaps the BBC are worried that the term podcast is a bit vague and confusing. Maybe it’s too new a phrase, after all we’ve only been using it since 2005… (and for that matter the BBC have for most of that time too).
But I don’t think this decision boils down to the fact that Podcast could be seen as favouring Apple’s iPod series of MP3 players. And it’s true that we get the name podcast from the a combination of iPod and broadcasting – in a way it has always been a subtle advert for Apple.
But I think we’re beyond that now, people see podcasts as exactly what they are, they don’t see it as favouring any one player (we all know they play on any or even stream online). Heck, podcast has even been accepted into the Oxford dictionary, it’s not just tech talk, it’s an actual term! And if the BBc were trying to avoid links with Apple, perhaps they shouldn’t have named their on demand service iPlayer!
I see absolutely no benefit in renaming the BBC podcast, out of all broadcasters in the UK, the Beeb have the most and we all know what they are. Although I don’t expect it to make much difference, the only thing the ‘Free Download’ name can bring is more confusion rather than less.
It’s a strange and bizarre decision, but then that seems to be very much the BBC’s thing at the moment – I’ll bring you my views and memories of BBC Television Centre tomorrow…