Here’s why that’s a bonehead move by Apple…
Everything “pod” or “podder” or “podcast” does one thing: it screams Apple and their device. It does not, in my view, dilute the trademark in the same way that people using the term “Kleenex” did (which had arguably become such common vernacular for facial tissue, though a trademarked brand, that it caused a trademark protection scramble for Kimberly Clark so they didn’t “lose” the brand).
I submit that all of this “pod” momentum is an unbelievably good thing for Apple and it’s a bad move to stomp it down. It keeps competition at bay since anyone else positioning their product to tap into this momentum screams “me too” and causes customers to want “the real thing.”
As a podcaster, I’ve been aware that — for the last two versions of iTunes — Apple has made it increasingly challenging for users to browse for podcasts. If you know the title or keyword you can search on it or you can click “browse” and attempt to scroll down to podcasts until the word “podcast” appears to then see the directory. I know where my own podcast is and it’s quite hard for ME to find it! The kicker is that free podcast content accelerates sales of iPod’s since it makes the device just that much more useful. Apple doesn’t make money off of podcasts via the iTunes Store but they could be more of a catalyst to continue to drive momentum with podcasting and continue to focus energy and momentum on the iPod and iTunes. Apple instead is making it more difficult and has somewhat deflated the enthusiasm in the podcast community.
My guess is that part of this cease-n-desist crackdown is intended to ensure that the lion’s share of the focus on “anything pod” stays with Apple. My post yesterday about rich internet applications may be a strategic consideration for Apple since knocking off iTunes probably won’t be all that difficult. Maybe this is all about heading this possibility off and ensuring that the killer process (iTunes-to-desktop-to-MusicStore-to-device which is what I term “Apple’s magic sauce”) isn’t all that defensible unless Apple has a process-patent pending on it. If that’s the case (and I suspect it is) then carefully and strategically making moves like this make some sense.
Still, any moves made to make anything “pod” more generic (and top podcaster Leo Laporte has suggested “netcast” for podcasts and Robert Scoble has done the same but suggested different names) will open up the market for competitive approaches and devices. This begs the question: Where are your statements or guidelines directing the ecosystem on what to do and what not to do? I predict they’ll never come since doing so would signal the marketplace on where the entry points are and it’s better corporate and market defense to leave it uncertain.
Unfortunately Mr. Jobs, these moves are signaling the marketplace. You’re telling the iPod ecosystem and marketplace to make audio, video and other media generic instead of iPod-centric. THAT is the essence of why this is a bonehead move. Without a doubt Microsoft, Creative, WalMart and others would like to say an enthusiastic and resounding, “Thank you!” for accelerating it.