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Did Apple just pull a "Microsoft"?

iTunes now supports podcasting, but in doing so, did Apple take a page from Microsoft’s book of tactics?

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Transcript

Did Apple just pull a Microsoft on us?

This is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at askleo.info.

Microsoft has long taken flack for it’s old mantra of “embrace and extend” … meaning to embrace a technology or standard, and then extend it – quite often in a proprietary way. Much of the mess we currently see in the HTML and Web Browser market is because of Microsoft’s embracing HTML, and then extending it in non-standard’s compliant ways. Microsoft has long taken heat for this kind of activity, and in my opinion, rightfully so.

So a little while ago Apple announced their new version of iTunes with support for podcasting. It looks to me like another case of “embrace and extend”.

Apple Embraced podcasting – which really means that they added support for RSS 2.0 and enclosures within RSS feeds to deliver audio content. They turned iTunes into a podcatching client. I’ve heard figures as high as 40% for the amount of the podcatching market that they gained, almost literally overnight.

But Apple extended RSS – in fact the very first sentence of the technical specifications for getting your podcast published in iTunes says “iTunes uses RSS 2.0 with some additional tags.”

Now I’m not against additional tags, and I’m not even against Apple’s extending the podcasting namespace … RSS is, in fact, designed to handle exactly that. What makes me uncomfortable is that Apple has basically said “here are the tags you need to add to play well with iTunes”. Without any warning or community involvement they’ve simply and arbitrarily pushed out a new standard. And they’ve taken steps to, effectively, hide the DTD (or Document Type Definition) that they have you reference in the RSS feed.

It bothers me. It all seems very … non-Apple-like. And, to be honest, very Microsoft-like.

Time will tell. In the mean time, you’ll have to excuse me … I have to go make some changes to my RSS feeds.

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2 comments on “Did Apple just pull a "Microsoft"?”

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    Reply

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