The Myth Of Personal Video


MY VIDEO IPOD LOVES ME! Unfortunately, I only like it “as a friend.” It all started last December when we met at a holiday party–the chemistry was extraordinary. It was sleek, beautiful and full of mystery (“Lost”), drama (“Law & Order”) and intrigue (“Desperate Housewives). It had a sense of humor (“SNL”) and even a penchant for history (“Alfred Hitchcock Presents”). Yes, this was a relationship that could seemingly last forever… not!

As soon as I got my 60GB Video iPod, I loaded it up with season 16 (the 11 available episodes for $19.98)of “Law & Order,” two feature-length motion pictures I’d ripped from my personal DVD copies, a couple of home movies and some “short subject” videos I had lying around the hard drive. Excluding the two overnights for DVD ripping (and they don’t really count, because even though the process can take up to 8 hours, to rip a DVD for a video iPod requires only one mouse click; you just have to wait for it to finish), loading my new toy took under two hours. This included 3,800 songs from my existing iTunes library and 1,300 photographs from my existing iPhoto library.

I was in geek heaven! I watched an episode of “Law & Order” in the cab on the way to the airport and got through about two hours of “Memoirs of a Geisha” on the plane before my battery died. Three hours of viewing pleasure didn’t seem bad to me at the time, so I took out my “old” 60 GB iPod Photo and listened to music for the rest of the trip. Three hours later, I still had three quarters of that battery left. Hmmm …

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Here I was with ALL of my favorite music, ALL of my favorite photos and ALL the video that I could watch for a week on one device in the palm of my hand. For a great number of reasons, this was a better fantasy than reality. Here’s the short list:

Battery life: There is absolutely no way that I will listen to any music or show even one photo using my video iPod if I have any intention of watching video on it. That bright little screen eats battery life, and TV shows and movies are long.

Navigation: The patented Apple navigation wheel is great for music, but not that great. Add a couple of thousand photos and it’s still pretty useful. But add 30 videos, 50 podcasts and an audiobook, and you’re in search hell.

Programming: You need to dedicate some quality time to finding and loading your videos. There’s not much content available, and almost everything needs to be transcoded to .m4p files for use in the device. This isn’t hard to do, but it takes time–time I don’t have.

Fatigue: I have some songs on my iPod that I really love, but don’t need to listen to for about another year. They are small files and it makes me happy to have them at my fingertips. I don’t mind hearing them in shuffle mode, and I can easily skip over them if want to. I will not need to watch the “New York Minute” episode of “Law & Order” for about another year. It’s just taking up space on my video iPod – there’s no way I’m watching it any time soon.

High-Focus Activity: You can listen to music while you are doing almost anything except listening to something else that includes other music. Personal music has been a part of our culture since Sony introduced the Walkman in the 1970s. Not true with video, a high-focus activity. There are far fewer moments during the day when I can give my full attention to a personal video than I ever imagined.

Is there a market for “personal video” devices? Yes! Is there content that is more suited to this screen size? There should be. (That being said, TV is a “close up” medium and well-shot television shows translate nicely to small video screens.) Will someone have to figure out navigation? Absolutely! Will you ever really use a multifunction device for multifunctions? Only when batteries last for days instead of hours. Will these devices be much cooler and more useful when they are wireless (WiFi, UWB wireless USB, WiMax, EVDO)? Significantly more useful. Is there such a thing as “personal video?” You tell me…  Shelly Palmer

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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