How Popular Is Mobile Video?

Is portable video not the killer app some have touted or is its time simply not yet here? Both questions are raised with new data--from the Nielsen Media Research people who, if nothing else, should really know television--suggesting that iPod users rarely use their video capabilities. This is true even of users of the Video iPod, who apparently liked the idea of portable video more than the real thing.

Nielsen found that less than one percent of accessed iPod content, including content from iTunes, was video. That number increased slightly--but just slightly-- for Video iPod users, who opted for video about 2.2 percent of the time. According to The Hollywood Reporter, those numbers improved a bit when the question was changed from the number of items played to the number of minutes player, but not dramatically. "Even measured by duration of consumption, where 30- or 60-minute TV shows might seem to have a built-in advantage over three-minute songs, video comprises just 2 percent of total time spent using iPods or iTunes among iPod owners," the news report said. "Video iPod users consume video 11 percent of the time."

Does this mean that consumers are not interested in Web video? Not necessarily. First, laptop and PC screens are much more suitable to video, as least for first-generation efforts. Secondly, those numbers aren't so bad for this new a media format. If it hasn't materially changed in one year, then there may be trouble in videoland.