Aunty has decided to launch a service which would be really useful to foreign people desperate to see some decent telly by providing a video on demand service though its iPlayer. The downside of the cunning plan is that it is only offering the service through an iPhone App.
The iPlayer was a stonking success because it first appeared on the PC, which meant that for the minimum of development the BBC could test it on the maximum numbers.
As one angry reader Peter Scott, who is a foreign contractor working in Mongolia, pointed out, the BBC is enhancing the product of a proprietary outfit which makes a huge profit off of it.
“If they had shoved it onto Flash then they would have a wide audience and no-one would have been unhappy. OK, it is a trial, but you do not trial a product on the one piece of software which is used by the least possible people. If it goes tits up it will be because the BBC has been trying to get its software to run on software that no one uses anyway.”
He was worried that if the software didn’t work, or was ignored by Apple fanboys, who already have competing iTunes products, then the BBC would scrap the idea.
“However there are lot of us expats are spending a fortune on Slingboxes and we would not dream of touching anything Applish,” Scott said.
BBC spokesman Dan Neale said that Aunty chose iPad as the pilot platform as it could test the service with a defined audience and use iTunes to collect the cash.
This enabled the Beeb to cost effectively roll out this service to the 11 launch countries in a careful and measured way.
“The iPad app is a pilot. We wanted to test the demand and appetite for an international BBC branded VOD service and ascertain what audiences wanted from us,” he said.
The iPad app was chosen to deliberately target early adopters during the course of the pilot and the BBC may well subsequently look at opportunities that would allow it to roll out iPlayer to other platforms.
However Neale said that if the BBC rolled out the service beyond Apple iOS platforms would “require BBC Trust approval”, however he would not tell TechEye why Apple gets special treatment.
Neale said that the UK BBC iPlayer started off on a few platforms and has subsequently been developed and updated.
That is true, but the first iPlayer ran off the PC and Windows which runs on 95 per cent of computers. Whereas the Apple OS runs off less than five percent of target machines in the regions the trial is taking place.
This is not the first time that the BBC has got into trouble for producing software which helps Apple compete against rivals.