The Podcast lives, whereas the iPod is Dead

Pour one out for the iPod, the gorgeous little gadget of my teenage dreams. While Apple eventually concluded the last iPod model this week, the “pod” lives on in the digital audio medium we all adore and obsess over.

The iPod was never the format where the podcast flourished (that would be the smartphone), but the iPod was the only recreation in town when podcasts started.

In 2004, the iPod regulated 60 percent of the MP3 player market. Moreover, it was the default option for attending to audio shows on the shot if an inelegant one.

“It was a terrible experience,” states Leo Laporte, founder of early digital audio outlet This Week in Tech (TwiT) and host of The Tech Guy’s radio show. “You had to download it to the computer, relate your computer through iTunes to the iPod, copy it over the iPod, and then you could attend to it.”

But with the gadget everywhere, the “podcast” name appeared like a natural fit for the scrappy online audio presentations that were starting to emerge. So realistic that two people declare to have separately linked “iPod” and “broadcast” together. The first recorded illustration is in a 2004 Guardian article by journalist and technologist Ben Hammersley where he pitched around potential names for the medium.

Digital audio frontiersperson Dannie Gregoire named one of his software programs “podcaster” and registered domain titles featuring the term “podcast,” then popularized it with the aid of former MTV VJ and earlier podcast host Adam Curry.

Gregoire says he had not been conscious of Hammersley’s article before coming up with the name. “??It’s an obvious word to come up with, given the technology,” he said. Hammersley did not respond to the request for comment.

Either way, it hooked on. Apple not only allowed the word live, despite potential trademark infringement, but it embraced the medium wholeheartedly by creating a podcast directory on iTunes in 2005. George W. Bush began unleashing his presidential radio addresses in podcast form that same year. The New Oxford American Dictionary accepted notice of all the commotion and made “podcast” its 2005 word of the year.

Not everyone was delighted. For years, Laporte opposed — and lost — the battle to rebrand “podcasting” as “net casting,” claiming that the word tied the form too near to Apple. Time has ascertained him right and wrong.

Yes, the iPod was a fleeting stage in the run of podcasting. But the phrase outgrew its namesake to the point where Apple is just one component of the podcasting ecosystem and not even the dominant one. Spotify has brought its crown as the most-used platform for podcasting, and Apple’s podcast programming is the tiniest.