BBC says iPlayer criticism unfair

The head of the BBC's Future Media and Technology unit has said launching the iPlayer on the Windows XP platform only was 'never the plan'

The BBC has hit back at criticisms from the Mac and open-source communities over the iPlayer only being available for Microsoft's Windows XP platform.

The BBC launched the iPlayer in July this year for the Windows XP platform, leading to criticism from Mac and Linux users. But, in an interview with sister site, the BBC's head of the Future Media and Technology unit, Ashley Highfield, said the criticism has been unfair.

Highfield said: "It would be understandable if we'd only ever intended to launch an XP-only iPlayer, but that was never the plan. When we launch services we will always try to get to the largest part of that universe. The PC universe is the largest part of that. It was just the starting point."

A streaming version of the iPlayer will be available for Mac and Linux users by Christmas. The BBC, however, is still unable to commit to a download version for those platforms — although Highfield believes this will happen during 2008.

Highfield said: "The point is that I'm not going to be able to commit to it until we've got our sticky mitts on it, tried it, tested it, [and] worked out the cost implications. I do believe we will be able to and I'm pretty certain at some point during 2008 we will have one."

Highfield himself has been seen brandishing a brand-new iPod Touch but says he doesn't follow any one platform or manufacturer's "philosophy".

"I am a deep lover of Macs. I have had one in the past. I got the iPod Touch in New York before they were here. I use a Sony Vaio on a day-to-day basis. I don't have a particular philosophy of manufacturers or solutions. I have a media centre sitting in front of me with the television above it, and on it I have both the iTunes library and my Zune library. I have affinity with stuff that's just really well built, well designed and works well — not any particular manufacturer," said Highfield.

The ease of use of the iPod Touch is something Highfield would like to emulate in the iPlayer. "I think the iPod Touch is a beautiful piece of design. If everything could have that intuitiveness of use... and certainly, in terms of the BBC iPlayer, I aspire to it being that easy to use," he said.