Nielsen (the TV/web/whatever ratings company) recently conducted a study regarding the use of iPods for video viewing and, well, the results are about what one would expect: less than 16% of iPod owners had ever used their device to watch any sort of video content and less than 1% of the total use time of iPods is devoted to such a task. The Ars Technica piece linked to above lists several speculative reasons for the low adoption rates, the vast majority of which boil down to this: people don’t want to watch video content on a rinky-dink little 2-3″ screen. (That’s inches, if you happen to be the front man for a mock British rock band looking to recreate Stonehenge on stage.) This is so blindingly obvious to me that I find myself wondering why Nielsen would even bother to waste good money on figuring it out.
Portable video use will remain in single percentage digits until someone figures out a non-intrusive way to virtualize a display (the Sony Glasstron does not count as “non-intrusive”). We have speakers for our ears (earphones) that allow youngsters to acquire acute tinnitus rather rapidly; miniature speakers that, due to their proximity to our ears, simulate full-sized speakers and deliver an experience similar to listening to a stereo at home. What we need are miniaturized screens that can deliver the same to our eyes, “eyephones”, if you will.
This will never occur, of course, since most people’s ability to navigate a city street is unimpeded by the presence of iPod earbuds blaring the Killers’ latest songs, while their ability to do so with a simulated 53″ TV floating mere inches from their eyes would most definitely be impeded. So, if anyone has any bright ideas, I’m willing to bet that a lot of electronics manufacturers would just love to hear ’em. You’d make a mint.