The BBC’s iPlayer service has since its launch been the premier catch-up TV platform in the UK region due to its widespread accessibility and the name behind it, but the ‘accessibility’ part of that statement has come under question, with many of the belief that the iOS version of the iPlayer app is favoured when it comes to releasing updates.
Investigating the matter, the BBC Trust has come to the conclusion that this is not the case, responding to an original complaint brought to their attention in 2011, which suggested that a number of iPlayer features had been included on the iPhone’s version of the app before its Android counterpart, and that other updates (including the option to ‘download programs for offline view’) were on Apple’s platform well in advance of Google’s.
However publishing a document on the issue online, the organization notes there is no evidence to imply the iOS being “unfairly favoured”, and that the comparative delay in Android feature releases was down to “complexity and expense” in app production as well as a more “fragmented” release on account of the many more devices that use the Android operating system (estimated to be 4,000 from 600 companies) compared to the iOS (with only Apple-brand devices running from it).
Consolidating this point, the BBC Trust also issued the statistics of release date (April 2011) and cost of running both apps, which turned out to be almost identical in all departments.
The report noted: “[The iOS app caters to] a demographic that was more likely, both in percentage terms and absolute numbers, to use BBC on-demand services. While the BBC must do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure that viewers can access its on-demand content in a range of convenient and cost-effective ways, this did not necessarily mean that it would always be expected to launch new features on different platforms simultaneously.”
While promising to maintain a stance of ‘monitoring progress’ on the app releases, and requesting that the BBC continue to keep updating the Android version of iPlayer regularly, was there correct reason for those complaining to be concerned with the broadcaster on this issue, and with Android slowly overtaking Apple in the connected device market, could it be that the complaints are reversed a few years down the line?