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Watching the Tiny Screen

March 7, 2006 | Ibex Marketing

I’ve been one of the skeptics about television on cell phones. A big one. And once again, it appears that the world is only too happy to prove me wrong. Insight Media’s Ken Werner reported in last Friday’s “Daily Outlook” that a Nokia-sponsored in England shows that people love to watch the telly on their mobile (as they’d say over there). Half of the people who watched their phones did so at home, where there was a full-size television set nearby. According to a representative of the company that did the research, the key was that people felt that the experience was more personal, and gave them more control without having to share it with others.

Okay folks, this is strong support for a different song that I’ve been singing, a theory that I now call “The iPod Effect.” Music listening used to be a group activity, but the Sony Walkman CD player and now MP3 players have changed all that. You listen to your own music, when and where you want to. Video has been a group activity up to now, but this study shows that people want to be able to watch what they want, when and where they want. It appears that video watching could become an individual activity a lot faster than even I had expected.

This not only has implications for what types of displays people will buy in the future, but also for what they’ll watch on it. From where I stand, it looks like this development will favor IPTV over traditional broadcast models in a big way. I know that I’d much rather watch some good footage from a Mediterranean sailboat race or a bluegrass festival than another Hollywood production with a laugh track that lets me know where the funny parts are supposed to be. You might not want to watch sailing or bluegrass, but I bet there’s something you would like to watch if it was as easy to do as getting music for your MP3 player is now.