Although The iPod Has Died, The Podcast Has Not

    Pour one for the iPod, the lovely little device of my youthful fantasies. While Apple’s latest iPod model was terminated last week, the “pod” lives on in the digital audio medium that we all adore.

    What’s New?

    The iPod was never truly the format where podcasting thrived (that honor goes to the smartphone), but it was pretty much the only game in town when podcasts first started. In 2004, the iPod accounted for 60% of the global MP3 player sales. If the audio broadcasts were inelegant, it was the default alternative for listening to them on the go.

    “It was a dreadful experience,” says Leo Laporte, presenter of the radio shows The Tech Guy and inventor of the first digital audio source This Week in Tech (TwiT). “You had to download it to your computer, connect your computer to your iPod using iTunes, copy it to your iPod, and then play it.”

    The name “podcast” seemed like a perfect fit for the rambling online audio broadcasts that were beginning to appear, given the widespread gimmick. It’s so natural that two people claim to have individually blended “iPod” with “broadcast.” The first instance was in a 2004 Guardian piece by journalist and techie Ben Hammersley, in which he suggested names for the media (“GuerillaMedia” didn’t work).

    What’s More?

    Dannie Gregoire, a digital audio pioneer, titled one of his programs “podcaster” and registered domain names containing the word “podcast” the same year, then popularized the term with the help of former MTV VJ and early podcast host Adam Curry. Before coming up with the moniker, Gregoire claims he was unaware of Hammersley’s piece. “Given the technology, it’s a natural word to come up with,” he remarked. Hammersley did not respond to an interview request.

    Regardless, it worked. Despite potential trademark infringement, Apple not only allowed the phrase live, but it also embraced the medium enthusiastically by launching a podcast directory on iTunes in 2005. In the same year, George W. Bush began broadcasting his speeches on presidential radio as a podcast. The New Oxford American Dictionary took notice of all the commotion and selected “podcast” the 2005 word of the year.

    Digging In More Details

    Not everyone was delighted. Laporte waged — and lost — a long campaign to rename “podcasting” as “netcasting,” claiming that the term was too closely associated with Apple. Time has shown him correct and incorrect.

    Yes, the iPod was only a blip on the radar when it came to podcasting. However, the term has surpassed its namesake to the point where Apple is no longer the dominating player in the podcasting ecosystem. Spotify has established itself as the most popular podcasting platform, while Apple’s podcast selection is limited at best.

    Nonetheless, the term is unavoidable. Laporte eventually caved in and renamed the TWiT Netcast network the TWiT Podcast network a few years ago. He responds, “That’s how language is.” “You can’t do anything about it.”

    Mayhem Malik
    I am a creatively driven and motivated individual with over 10 years of experience in content writing. Writing is an art, and I intend to produce amazing masterpieces, with open arms to criticism to keep growing professionally!

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