Imitation is the (in)sincerest form of flattery

Regular readers and listeners know that until recently I was producing two podcasts for The Podcast Network (TPN). I decided to take both shows off that network and take them independent due to some philosophical differences with TPN. No big deal, hosts weren’t making money on TPN anyway. Imagine my surprise when I see a TPN press release this morning about their new deal with Australian wireless provider Azure Wireless:

Podcast subscribers can now get access to their favourite shows while away from home thanks to a new service launched today by Azure Wireless, the leading Australian provider of high-speed wireless Internet services, and The Podcast Network (TPN), the world’s leading publisher of professional podcasts.

Cameron Reilly, Co-Founder of TPN, said that this service was another major milestone in the history of podcasting as it was the first alliance between a publisher of podcast content and a network provider.

“Business travelers can now get low-cost access to their favourite TPN podcasts through using a special Azure account at any of their 400+ hotspots across Australia. This brings podcasting one step closer to the immediacy of traditional radio,” he said.

The initial pricing for the new Wireless Podcast service will be $10 for 150MB and $20 for 400MB (ex GST).

David Gold, CEO of Azure Wireless, said:
“We see it as a step towards converged media and wireless Internet services which will ultimately have a profound impact on the way information is propagated. This service will be particularly suitable for busy people who, for example, would like to catch up with a business or sports show while in transit. It takes under a minute to download a 15-minute show so with wi-fi enabled devices such as PDAs you can even do it while walking through a hotzone.”

Now, first of all, if you look closely at the logo above you will see the new service is called “TPN On The Run”. Sound familiar? I have been using the “OnTheRun” branding for a couple of years now and I guess TPN and Azure liked it well enough to use it too. I’m flattered. Second of all, what benefits does this new service bring to podcast listeners? Maybe it’s an Australian thing but if I’m not mistaken TPN shows are freely available on the Web already. Why would anyone want a WiFi hotspot account that charges for download bandwidth to get TPN content? I really don’t understand this at all, but maybe it’s just me. Seems like any WiFi hotspot service can easily let the customer download TPN content without a special service at all. I’m scratching my head over this one.

As for the slogan “borrowing” I guess it’s true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Even so, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me wonder- Cameron Reilly once asked me if I had trademarked the phrase “what do you want to write today” that I’ve been using on my Tablet podcasts for a few months. I guess it will appear on TPN next. Sigh.

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