Will "Pod" Become A Bad Word?

I saw on Micro Persuasion that Apple is beginning to take legal action against organizations, websites and products that use the word "pod" in regard to podcasting. It appears that Apple wants to reign in the podcasting name and any unsanctioned use of "pod" that could be related to iPods or podcasting.

I must say I don't really get this and am disappointed in Apple. Isn't it the goal of any company to get their brand to a point that it is so ingrained into the culture that its product name becomes synonymous with the use of the product? Look at Xerox, Frisbee and Kleenex. For many people xerox is a verb for making copies, a frisbee is any recreational flying disc, and a kleenex is your best friend during cold and flu season. These brand names have transcended the actual products they originally represented and as such own the mindshare of their respective markets. We already know iPods are the leading MP3 players. In fact the word iPod has even begun to represent all MP3 players...and how could Apple not be pleased with that?

So let's say Apple sufficiently cracks down on all this pod-speak. That means everyone will have to use another term to discuss the technology formerly known as podcasting except in the actual cases when you're referring to the Apple products/technology. As this new word emerges it will undoubtedly push the "pod" to the background and the "casting" to the foreground. I don't see how that helps Apple at all. They already have the "pod" product with the family of iPods, so by default they win every time someone uses the word "podcast" whether it's intended to represent something specifically for iPods or not. In fact, this depodification may only clarify for some people that podcasting is not exclusive to iPods. While that's a nice clarification for the uninitiated consumer, it doesn't help Apple extend the reach of their brand.

In the end I think Apple may regret this course of action because it's going to muddy the waters that they have clearly owned up to this point. It's also going to be a PR problem because they have been the anti-corporation for so long and this is very corporate...it's fearful and controlling and just very un-Apple of them.

1 comment:

Jon Haarstad said...

Bill - An update - I read your blog entry this morning and then tonight I found this article on Digg.com [ click here ]. I'm breathing a bit of a "whew"...for now. It appears the "podcast" name may be safe again...a silly move by Apple if all the rumors were true.