Recent research shows that users aren't giving much thought to video playback on iPods

Despite strong sales during the initial launch of downloadable movies from Apple's iTunes Store, recent studies suggest that watching videos on iPod players is isn't quite as popular as Apple would lead you to believe. A study performed by Nielson Media Research shows that roughly 2.2% of the content 5G iPod users viewed through iTunes or their own device were videos.

The research, which involved 400 iPod users monitored during the month of October, also showed that:

  • Only 2% of the total time spent watching videos for the users surveyed was through the device itself or on iTunes.
  • For 5G iPod users alone, total time spent watching videos on the device itself or on iTunes was 11%.
  • Only 15.8% of all iPod users have even watched video content on an iPod or on iTunes.

Given Apple's wide embrace of movie content and TV shows on iTunes, one would expect for the usage numbers to be a bit higher for iPod users. With the typical song lasting 3-5 minutes versus a 30-minute of hour-long television show (and even longer for feature-length films), TV shows and movies have the playtime advantage over music. But given that iPods were originally portrayed as music players, the wealth of audio content versus video content on typical players is hard to overcome. Reuters reports:

Nielsen's take on video consumption is highly subject to interpretation. Worst-case scenario: The panel is an early indication that TV and movies have limited appeal on iPods. Best-case scenario: While adoption of video may be proceeding more slowly than the hype suggests, there is tremendous upside ahead. Either way, the results will be of interest to a media world intent on migrating video to wireless hand-helds, whether portable media players like Microsoft's new Zune or mobile phone market entrants like Verizon's VCast.

Microsoft is betting big on not only music, but video for its Zune player. The player comes standard with a 3" screen that would make it a bit more useful for video playback than the 5G/5.5G iPod's smaller 2.5" screen. Even so, the usage figures for the iPod must give Microsoft executives some pause given that the Zune won't have nearly the same impact or clout in the market as the iPod.

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