It looks like Apple is taking legal action against sites using the term "podcast" in their domain name. They started by requesting from PodcastReady.com to stop using the term "POD".
Don't get me wrong. I own a MacBookPro, a Mac mini, 2 older iMacs, 2 Macs, an iPod 4G and an iPod nano; I'm a big fan of Apple's products. Plus I work at an advertising agency; I know the value of "the brand". And actually, this is what Apple is jeopardazing, the value of their iPod brand.
We all agree that iPod is Apple's trademark. A trademark with huge value. But we, consumers, have embraced the product, and created "podcasting". We didn't have to call it podcasting, we could have called anything: audiofeed, audiocasting, netcasting, anything that implies automatic delivery of audio files through an RSS "channel". But we loved our iPods.
Apple made some smart moves and embraced the "movement". They added podcast features in iTunes in version 4.7 (I think) and they turned iTunes+iPod into a great platform to receive and listen to podcasts. I rarely listen to plain music on my iPod, I mainly use it to listen to podcasts. Actually, I bought my first iPod to listen to podcasts! And as a podcaster myself I have been promoting the use of iPods as the best medium to listen to my shows.
What will happen now? Apple is doing a terrible mistake. They are protecting their trademark but at the same time they are turning users against a brand they loved. Not regular users. Vocal users, like podcasters, users that are trendsetters, users that have an audience.
I suggested using the term "zunecast" (MS marketing, you are sooooo slowwww in reacting), as a way to show how much value podcasters and podcasting are giving to Apple.
Apple may gain complete ownership of their trademark. But they are losing brand value. And isn't value what a company's looking after? This is a new era. Consumers are part of the brand. Consumers are your brand's stake holders. Take this away from them and they will stop being YOUR consumers.
UPDATE: It looks like Apple's objections are related to hardware and not to podcasting services. A calmer view than mine :-) can be found here.