“Podcast” Naming Debate – Part Deux

What’s up with the podcast name debate. It keeps raging on, in different forms… If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed my coverage of a similar debate a few months ago that was initiated by Mark Ramsey’s comments. Here’s a snapshot of what transpired then:

Step 1: Mark Ramsey (of Hear2.0) contends that podcasting is bad naming because of 3 reasons — (i) low recognition of the term, (ii) very low usage, (iii) ambigous usage of the term

Step 2: Seth Godin disagrees w/ Mark since he believes podcasting is brave and imaginative and ergo a great name

Step 3: I disagree w/ Seth since I believe being accurate and imaginative is the hallmark of a great brand name and since the term “podcasting” is misleading, it fails on that count.

And, now here’s the sequel:

Step 4: Apple orders Podcast Ready to cease and desist from using the terms “Podcast Ready” and “myPodder” since they infringe on Apple’s trademarks, and that they cause confusion among consumers. (Remember the web 2.0 furore)

Step 5: Leo Laporte from Twit.tv stirs the pot further with cries of “Can’t we come up with a better word for what we do?”, further echoing Mark’s sentiments from the debate – Part Uno. His name suggestion: Net Cast

Step 6: Scoble wonders if Podtech.net will be next in line, and starts taking in suggestions for a podcast name change. Reader suggestions range from audcast to vidcast to my favorite, iCast.

Step 7: Jason Calacanis summarizes web user sentiments in his own inimitable style.

My Take: According to Webster’s New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Podcasting is

the Web-based broadcast of music which works with software that automatically detects new files and is accessed by subscription

Things have gotten a bit more blurry, now that the newer iPods have video too. I believe, vlogs will probably become the dominant mode of web broadcasts in the future. So, yes, I don’t think changing the term “podcasting” is feasible — for numerous reasons (in spite of it’s ambiguity it has brand recognition), but this is just an intermediary step before we move onto bigger & better modes of streaming multimedia.

The future will see audio & video being streamed across in much the same way as television functions today. The ascendancy of tv over radio will be mirrored on the web as well (think YouTube times ZeFrank). So why don’t we set our sights higher at defining what will be the future of web broadcasts – video AND audio.

How about TVcasting — the Web-based broadcast of music, movies and tv which works with software that automatically detects new files and is accessed by subscription.

Or does Apple’s yet-to-be-released iTv prevent us all from using the term TV as well!?

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  3. Mario Sundar

    Hi Mark,

    I agree; it’s unfortunate that Apple has closely associated itself with mp3 players, much like Kleenex and Google did with their respective fields.

    However, the law supports the theory that common language usage dilutes the brand’s impact and thus you’ll see more instances of lawsuits.

    But my money’s still on the term podcast surviving, much the same way Kleenex, Jeep, Coca-Cola, Band-Aid, Jello, Disney, Cellophane, Aspirin, and Rollerblade did…

    Also, feel free to check out this cool article on brand confusion: http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/09/05/google-the-brand-name-or-google-the-word/.


  4. Mark Ramsey

    Podcasting will prevent the success of podcasts, sadly.

    They should have called them “zeitgeists” or something – unrelated to the Apple-branded destination of the audio content.

  5. Mario Sundar

    Hi Erik,

    Thanks for commenting.

    I think Programcast maybe a tad long. But to be honest with you, I haven’t thought of a better one, myself.


  6. Erik Blakkestad

    Podcasts are radio/audio or video “programs”. Call it a Programcast.

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