Pour one out for the iPod, the stunning little gadget of my teenage goals. While Apple lastly discontinued the last iPod model this week, the “pod” lives on in the digital audio medium all of us love and obsess over.
The iPod was by no means actually the format the place the podcast flourished (that may be the smartphone), but at the time podcasts had been getting began, the iPod was just about the solely recreation on the town. In 2004, the iPod controlled 60 percent of the whole MP3 participant market. It was the default choice for listening to audio exhibits on the go, if an inelegant one.
“It was a terrible experience,” says Leo Laporte, founding father of early digital audio outlet This Week in Tech (TwiT) and host of radio present The Tech Guy. “You had to download it to your computer, connect your computer via iTunes to your iPod, copy it over your iPod, and then you could listen to it.”
But with the gadget ubiquitous, the “podcast” title appeared like a pure match for the scrappy on-line audio exhibits that had been beginning to emerge. So pure that two folks declare to have individually merged “iPod” and “broadcast” collectively. The first recorded occasion is in a 2004 Guardian article by journalist and technologist Ben Hammersley the place he threw round potential names for the medium (“GuerillaMedia” didn’t catch). That similar 12 months, digital audio pioneer Dannie Gregoire named considered one of his software program packages “podcaster” and registered domains that includes the phrase “podcast,” then popularized it with the help of former MTV VJ and early podcast host Adam Curry. Gregoire says he had not been conscious of Hammersley’s article earlier than developing with the title. “It’s an obvious word to come up with, given the technology,” he mentioned. Hammersley didn’t reply to request for remark.
Either means, it caught on. Apple not solely let the phrase stay, regardless of potential trademark infringement, but it embraced the medium wholeheartedly by making a podcast listing in iTunes in 2005. That similar 12 months, George W. Bush began releasing his presidential radio addresses in podcast kind. The New Oxford American Dictionary took discover of all the hubbub and made “podcast” its 2005 word of the year.
Not everybody was thrilled. For years, Laporte fought — and misplaced — the battle to rebrand “podcasting” as “netcasting,” arguing that the phrase tied the kind too intently to Apple. Time has confirmed him proper and improper. Yes, the iPod was a fleeting section in the run of podcasting. But the phrase outgrew its namesake to the level the place Apple is only one a part of the podcasting ecosystem and never even the dominant one. Spotify has taken its crown as the most-used platform for podcasting, and Apple’s podcast programming is minimal, at finest.
Even so, the phrase is inescapable. A number of years in the past, Laporte relented and at last modified the TWiT Netcast Network to the TWiT Podcast Network. “That’s the way language is,” he mentioned. “You can’t fight it.”
This story initially ran in Hot Pod, The Verge’s preeminent audio business publication. You can subscribe here for extra scoops, evaluation, and reporting.