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BBC Trust finds the corporation not biased against Android and Windows Phone

BBC iPlayer

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has been accused by Android owners that the corporation is biased against Google's mobile platform with its iPlayer TV catch-up service. If you thought it was just the Windows Phone community battling hard against the BBC to get a worthy iPlayer solution available, you'd be wrong. That said, the BBC Trust has found that the corporation has not been biased against competing platforms to iOS.

We've followed the BBC in the past with the massive entity attempting to write Windows Phone off as a dead market, leaving consumers in the dark should they wish to check out programmes they've missed - this can prove to be irritating to those who fork out for the TV license. It's disappointing to see the regulatory body at the BBC finding nothing out of the ordinary in its report.

The actual complaint the report is in response to was filed in 2011, which was escalated to the Trust last year. The BBC has told CNET that fragmentation, which is an issue Android is reportedly still plagued by, has been used as the reasoning behind the lack of updates and why iOS is favoured. The Android app is currently missing functionality, including offline viewing and more.

But our own Windows Phone iPlayer app isn't anything more than a portal to the mobile version of the iPlayer website. It's taken over two years for the BBC to release a Windows Phone app and while it's not brilliant, we assume that the majority of those who have downloaded it from the store are satisfied it's actually presently available. Here's what the Trust had to say about the situation regarding iOS:

 "[The Trust] agreed that developing for Android brought greater complexity and expense and that the case put forward by the [BBC] was persuasive. There were clear reasons why. At the time, iOS was prioritised and agreed this approach was entirely consistent with the [on-demand syndication] policy."

The corporation also states that iOS users are more likely (in both percentage terms and absolute figures) to use BBC on-demand services. That may be true and the iPhone is a popular mobile device here in the UK, but to make apps for competing platforms that simply aren't on the same level of quality is nothing short of inexcusable in the minds of consumers. 

With the rise in popularity and usage for Windows Phone, we'd like to think there are more updates for our own application on the way. While the BBC has got its foot in the door, we'd like to see a native app developed for Windows Phone and we bet Microsoft do too. It's great to have a catch-up service on the smartphone, but there's room for more features and improvements. Offline playback, compatibility issues and more could all be addressed in some minor updates.

What are your thoughts on the BBC and how it's handling app development for platforms other than iOS? Be sure to sound off your thoughts in the comments. via: CNET

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Reader comments

BBC Trust finds the corporation not biased against Android and Windows Phone

125 Comments

To be honest the iPlayer app without a download function is fairly pointless...if I'm near a good internet connection I'm probably near my laptop so I'd watch iPlayer there. If I'm travelling then the signal is probably not going to be good enough to stream iPlayer uninterrupted, and it'll use up a load of my data allowance. Watching iPlayer on my phone is really only useful when I'm away from home and without a download function it's not much use. If Android still don't have that function I'm not holding out much hope for WP any time soon!
 
And as for the BBC's bias...well I still can't believe they haven't managed to publish a BBC News or BBC Sport app. And when I contacted them about it they said they currently had no plans to do so!

Except that if you loose 3G which virtually never happens, you roam on EEs 2G network, and you get a little triangle to show you're not on three anymore. The only two places i know of where my phone does this is for 1/2 mile half way between Swindon and Cheltenham on the a419, or at Berwick lodge hotel outside Bristol. Even the forest of dean has perfect Three coverage.

Well - do you also blame the bbc if your teli doesnt work at home because your connection is interrupted? No need for a download functionality. the problem here seems to be the internet provider, dont you think?

Not really. If you're travelling around the UK by train for example the internet connection via 3G is never uninterrupted. The fact that the iPhone app has a download function shows the BBC think it's a good function for (some) users to have.

Not really. If you're travelling around the UK by train for example the internet connection via 3G is never uninterrupted.

This is true. I do a short travel on the train to work and back everyday. My travel is but 15mins. 10 of those are in a black spot. This area is just 40mins out of London by train. It doesn't happen to just me either.
I've looked at the coverage maps of the UK of all carriers, every single one of them basically has a black spot in that area and even worse they have black spots all over the place where I live, which is only 25mins outside of London by train.
So having a download fucntion is a very good idea and the fact they think it's 'complicated' to make a good app for other platforms is total garbage. It's pure laziness on their part. They've had a love of anything 'i' for years and just can't be bothered.

It just sounds very lazy for a company as big as BBC. Sort it out BBC there are enough biased, Apple loving companies out there, things getting old now 

The Iplayer app needs a massive update but at least its there, where is itv player, 4OD and DEMAND 5?

There is at least proper 4OD and Demand5 apps for windows 8, id expect to see them make their way to windows phone before bbc ever make an app which isn't just a shortcut to the website.

Not to mention 4OD has much more content youd actually want to watch.. Lol

They won't have an excuse, BBC have limited funds so the fact Windows Phone has anything is good. You can use the iPlayer website on Windows 8 & Windows RT so there isn't a need for an app in the Windows Phone Store.

The beeb employ people of whom have salaries that go into the millions per annum. Excusing their bias by pleading poverty isn't going to wash, I'm afraid. Of course Windows Phone requires a feature rich app. What if people don't own or wish to use a tablet of PC?

Any media or social network company not going multiplatform is a loser. Netflix, Twitter, Whatsapp, Skype are very good successful examples of expanding reach, traction and popularity.

Are you an employee of BBC ?? A big corporation like BBC doesn't have funds to create mobile apps ?? You're kidding right... The player's name itself suggest BBC have bias towards iOS...

I hate the BBC I live in the UK and pay £100 and somthing pounds a year for crap.i had iPlayer on my Xbox and couldn't watch half the shows on it.1st post b t w lol

Well that will be your shit Internet connection because the BBC are the only decent broadcaster in the UK.

This isn't related to BBC, but a friend recent got a job working in the marketing department for Sky. When asking for their market research to see how many of their customers use Android/iPhone/Windows Phone they were told no such info is recorded. Sky literally aren't interested in how many people use - what platform. They merely blindly push Apple products to the point of advertising the iPad as the standard for tablets. Interesting to say the least....

"The corporation also states that iOS users are more likely (in both percentage terms and absolute figures) to use BBC on-demand services."

Isn't this perpetuated by the fact that iOS users have a better app and us Windows Phone and Android users are all limited by an inferior experience?

I always use the iPlayer app on my iPhone/iPad over my Lumia 620 and Nexus 4 because of this very reason.

Unbelievable.

Quite. I mean percentage wise perhaps Ubuntu users would be more likely to watch it. They just would never know. Pointless statement.

The BBC Trust deemed the BBC to be unbiased? I don't know what the Trust is, but I would find it hard to believe that it isn't biased towards the BBC.

I complained to the BBC about their forcing the withdrawal of the BBC News app a few months back. I haven't received a reply, let alone a satisfactory explanation, despite being a UK licence fee player. Their excuses are tiresomely feeble.

They had a pretty good app for Symbian (back in the days when I used to use it) - with the exception of low video quality. I don't understand what is their problem not making apps for the people who pay them to do their job! Bloody ios people are not the only ones who pay their wages! Get your act right BBC!

The Symbian app was very similar to the current WP8 app (basically a webpage dressed as an app) but it had the added bonus that you could download from it. But I think that's more to do with the open nature of Symbian able to download off the web.

Well it would seem pretty obvious to me that the platform you support the most would be the platform most likely to use your service. To be honest the BBC should be able to support all 4 major platforms for at least things such as a news and sport app the fact they cant or wont is testament to some bias after all they continue to improve its favourite platform apps. They play the tax player card a lot but I bet it does not cost £100 million pounds to support all the obvious apps on all the platforms even a fragmented one yet they managed to flush those tax payers pounds down the toilet easily enough.

Isn't it obvious to you all that sky and the bbc will receive handsome cheques from apple to give them exclusivity and the best quality apps. Money always talks.... Check out Zeitgeist on youtube or Netflix

Im a windows user. I pay a tv licence. I would like a good app. . BBC if you see this. Get your finger out and get it sorted. .

I'm sure I'm not the only one who hopes you aren't watching video (or texting, or browsing, or...) while you are behind the wheel.

Oooh im sorry, i didn't realise that as a passenger in a car i have to sit stock still, bolt upright, eyes forward in complete silence.

Halfwit.

This is absolutely ridiculous! You have an app called iPlayer using the same BS convention as Apple's iCrap, and then you have the audacity to claim your own company isn't biased. Umm, duh. BBC Trust Nothing, if you ask me.

Stop winging & bitching, a tv is for watching tv programs & a phone is for making calls & texting. Who in their right mind would want to watch tv on a 4" screen

It's not just about phones but tablets as well. But beyond that, I'd like to watch TV wherever I want using the tools available.

Yeah and a car is just for commuting lol. There's no point to racing cars. Why would anyone want a fast car? See how you sound right now? If that's the way everyone thought we would not have the technology and innovation we have today.

Oh Rob, you sound like a Luddite. Come o , you're what 80 yo? New channels to watch content are here to stay, and we should be happy about it, why did you get a smartphone the, if it's just to make phone calls ?

Yeah, who would want to play games on their phone? Who would want to read news, chat in forums, take photos and social network, all on a phone.

Get off the internet.

Fragmentation for Android is B.S. Just test on Samsung Galaxy S4 and maybe one or two other models. Problem solved. Just because a market is fragmented doesn't mean you have a blood oath to support that fragmentation.

Better yet, test it on the Nexus devices, they're pretty much stock Android. The thing is they can't use the same bullshit excuse with Windows Phone as all Windows Phones are pretty much stock as they are!!!!

I think developers who really like windows phone should get together and make a group. Their mission should be to make third party apps for all these apps that we don't have on windows phone just like it was done for instagram. Steal their API's or whatever, if they are biased towards our platform then I don't care how the third party app is made, do whatever that can be done to make the app. I'll be happy to pay for those apps. That would be really cool. If the official company asks for pulling the app from the store then Microsoft should ask them for a better official app.

I'm with you. A 3rd party developer consortium to create apps that don't exist in the marketplace. I think that's a great idea.

so your 'genius' idea is to steal APIs and thereby doing something illegal? Yeah, that'll surely put WP in the spotlight as a platform for illegal apps.

You mean like Android and some of their shady apps? Seems to be working for them. People steal music using apps and nothing seems to slow it down.

Your justification of doing something wrong is by pointing out someone else doing something wrong? Way to go, you'll go far in life.

I'm not saying we should go ahead and steal APIs. All I'm saying is that android steals and nothing is stopping it. You're saying people will look at windows phone has a platform that steals but people clearly don't label android as the platform that steals.

So WP isn't big enough to support but its big enough to have a hissy fit over a 5* third party news app

I also have it installed, and it still works well, but it is the principle of the thing. BBC should support a news app.

The same ole exact chicken and egg excuse that others give. More IOS users are likely to use on-demand because they have the ability to do so. Give our users the chance and see what happens. I wonder what these companies are so scared of. What do they have to lose besides a couple of devs and a few months??

Well exactly what I've been saying about apps today,if they make an app for one operating system they should be made to make for all systems.no wonder iPhone is sellin so well

Of course iOS users are more likely to watch shows on iPlayer if they've got a superior app!  Surely that's getting the cause and effect the wrong way around?

These companies do this all the time. Spotify was constantly saying how they had many more users of their iphone app than their WP app when the WP app was broken...no shit, you have less users of an app that doesn't even work. My bank, USAA, is the same way...and Mint...and etc.

Same sort of problem exists down under for ABC iView. While their isn't a specific TV license, the ABC is still tax payer funded. But due to the nature of the iView web platform being built on flash we don't even have the chance of a web portal shortcut. And the ABC only wants to support iOS for native apps.

Any app makers are biased if their apps are not the same equally across all platforms, it a dumb move to see a iPhone have all the given functions, then android and WP are missing a few functions that would make the app really good to use

The BBC would seem to not only have a bias towards apple but a strategic partnership with them. I wouldn't be surprised if someone at some point reveals they have a special corporate procurement discount arrangement. They just seem too chummy for there not to be some commercial back scratching going on.

I don't really care about caching up on shows. My favorite AP was the news AP, that until recently was available. It was taken down because BBC demanded it. Guess the US doesn't have a monopoly on evil companies

Took me a moment or two to realise that by "AP" you meant "app", but yes, I used to use the 3rd-party BBC News app too and it was great.  Disappointed in the BBC forcing its removal without there being any sort of official alternative.  They could have just brought the developer in-house, he'd done all the work, and very well, too! 
Having said all that, the recently re-launched BBC News mobile website is excellent and certainly makes the need for a dedicated app less pressing.

I used to care. But as they block ever attempt to let anyone other than UK AppleHeads to see their media, I no longer do.
Unless the UK wises up and realizes one if their few remaining cultural assets is walling itself off from the 21st Century they will continue to recede in worldwide significance.

I think many of us in the UK realize that, whilst the BBC is an incredible institution of which most of us are rightly proud, it is suffering from some poor decision making at the highest levels, and I'm sure I'm not alone in worrying for its long-term future, or at least its long-term reputation.

That's what I was thinking, the BBC Trust says the BBC is not biased against Android and WP. That's bias if I ever saw it.

Sky have been caught out with their watch sky tv on the go on your mobile. If its iPhone your fine, but sky will not invest in apps for an Os that isn't main stream or most likely won't be. Windows 7.5/7.8 dead (actually still believe it was a beta test to test the water), 8 will be out of date in 2 years, so why do apps for Os that has no standard. BBC will take the same stance, and the others the same
Another reason is lack of flash.. The player is not supported on your device or you need to install Flash to play BBC Alba. Install or upgrade the Flash player now..

I complained personally. They forced the removal of the 3td party BBC news app on WinPhone whilst advertising a news app on Apple Devices. I notice that the wording has changed for this advert: Android os now first, but all of the imagery is Apple.

They're total hypocrites... older people here may recall when the Beeb first released the iPlayer and it only ran on Windows, which was of course the majority operating system at the time, by a long shot. A petition of a mere 16,000 signatures forced them to rebuild the player to work on Linux...  which had no market share then and still has about exactly the same. So yeah.. they haven't got a leg to stand on with all this bull about platform popularity. These days they're a bunch of Apple-hats.. that's all.

there's a saying in my country which sums up the article title perfectly (though it loses something in translation)
 
"it's like asking the thief's mum for some clairvoyant help"

I can kind of understand the delay in regards to iPlayer due to technical constraints (HLS support). However, no BBC News app is a disgrace.

Yes. Also the same BBC that protected a group of high level celebs that were all peadophiles and rapists for 50 years

I dont think ive watched any programmes on any of the BBC channels for about 4 years and the news service they provide is about 30 minutes behind all the other major news providers. I just wished licence fees were done on a per channel basis would get my money back from the channels I never watch

Well naturally an INTERNAL investigation is going to be biased itself lol. Reminds me of the stink that Scottish football has got itself into with The Rangers FC 2012 and the SFA who keep having internal investigations to prove their innocence.

If they're into all this oversight and transparency, I'd like to see their estimates of the minimum team size that they'd need to maintain Windows Phone apps, and then i'd like to see some experienced Windows Phone developers comment on those numbers. There are some truly phenomenal Windows Phone apps that are written and maintained by people in their bedrooms in their spare time. If they needed an example of this they need look no further than the excellent unofficial BBC News app that they pulled down a few months ago.

the question is not if they are biased against Android or WP, rather that they appear to be biased in favour of iOS in their delivery of more rounded and effective services. It is all about the phrasing in an enquiry, and this should have been the question as it would have meant that the Trust would have had to look into its activities on ALL other mobile systems.