Steve Smith recently wrote an article for MediaPost's Mobile Insider citing recent Nielsen study findings that video makes up less than 1 percent of iPod usage. Wow. That got me thinking. Is video really going to catch on in handheld players and phones, or is it a pipe dream?
As those of us from the email world know, embedded video in email enjoyed a short renaissance back in the late 1990s until Microsoft decided that Java and other plug-ins were deemed too scary. Microsoft disabled those features in email by default and pretty much ended the video email momentum.
But the PC is a different story. Back in Sept. 2000, Microsoft released Windows ME (Media Edition) with the promise that computers would be great platforms for listening to music and watching television. Of course, Microsoft was WAY ahead of its time, but its vision is proving out six years later. More and more Web sites have animation, and even feature video ads all over them. I watch nearly all my TV on my Microsoft Media Center PC attached to my TV at home. And, of course, there is this little site called YouTube...
So what can we take away from this?
Of course, not all video works in all situations, but I believe video has no equal when it comes to engaging people. Short-form video seems to be the "killer video app" on computers, at least for the early 21st century. My friends and I were trading our favorite humorous commercials over email before YouTube made it one-click easy. People use computers in an active way and expect fast results. Short videos seem to fit that to a T.
Looping back to the original question: will video on mobile phones, iPods and other tiny screens, truly become a reality? My view (pun intended) is that video will find a way. Short-form video will help bridge the gap (see the Verizon and YouTube deal), but I suspect we'll see entirely new forms of video and video devices emerging as the world's most engaging medium finds its way to the insatiable eyes and ears of consumers.
P.S. I'm headed off for two great weeks of intensive email discussions. This week is the Email Insider Summit in Deer Valley, Utah. And next week is my regular gathering of the top emailers in the country. This second gathering will feature top-notch speakers on social sites, mobile marketing and user generated content. I should definitely have more to talk about on the subject of mobile video after I listen to these folks.