Not to turn this into an "Apple podcast" blog, but it's a topic worth delving into and it's Sunday so let's just go with it.
Dave Winer, the podfather responsible for the techical implementation of a podcast feed, has some thoughts on Apple's recent cease-and-desist dealio.
Winer admits that part of the reason podcasting took off when it did was because of Apple:
Now there's no doubt that part of the reason that podcasting took off then and not in 2003 or 2002 or 2001 is that there was an iPod and it was a juggernaut. People were interested in portable media, and the iPod had everything to do with that. So it made sense to relate this new art to the iPod, even though what Leo says is totally true, our podcasts work on things other than iPods.
And he can empathize with Apple:
Apple has a legitimate concern if you look at it from their point of view. Although I am not a lawyer, it seems to me that iPod is an excellent trademark, it's not descriptive, it's a made-up word, until Apple came up with it, it meant absolutely nothing.
I think this is the crux of the matter right here. iPod as a word didn't exist until Apple made it up. Bingo. In a world where dot com domains can form the basis of a business, making up works like Google, Frappr, and Flickr has become the way that companies are branding themselves. Heck the KDE desktop folk tend to put a "K" in front or in the middle of the names of every one of their applications just to avoid legal troubles down the road. Replace the "K" with a lowercase "i" and it's easy to see that Apple has adopted the same strategy.
Personally, I was waiting for this shoe to drop. If the community thought that we could just take someone else's word (either in its entirety of by extending it as is the case with "podcast") for our own uses in today's IP climate, then we were being naive.
I agree with Leo Laporte: let's stop ogling Apple and decying them for being bad guys, and just rename the thing to "netcast" and move on.