Doomed gadgets #3495

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

There’s an article in today’s Independent that trumpets a new MP3 player that has a colour screen and the ability to play movie files as an iPod killer. Apparently we’re all going to get bored of our iPods because they only play music. Just like, indeed, we got bored of our Walkmans over the years. Oh, hang on, we didn’t. I don’t think the “video iPod” is a flyer, simply because people like listening to music on the go, but just don’t watch TV in the same way. If you look in most gadget shops, you can buy personal TVs, small enough to carry around with you. When did you last see someone using one in public?

The problem with gadget freaks is that they are more excited by the technology than the use that the technology gets put to. And then, idiots like the journalist behind this article make the manufacturers think they can actually make money on bits of kit like this. They’re not going to, of course, The reason that the iPod is so successful is not the fact that it’s a cool piece of technology, it’s because its a cool and easy way to listen to 1,000s of songs whenever you want. If an iPod killer does come along, it’ll be something that does the same thing, is nearly as cool and easy to use and is hugely cheaper. It won’t be a clone that plays movies. Do you have any idea where you’d get movies to put on the device? No, I don’t either. Do you have any idea how you’d get, say, a DVD onto the device? No, I don’t either. The iPod is a simple solution which provides something people want – the ability to carry their music collection with them – while these video equivalents are merely a technology in desperate search of an application.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.