How Apple’s New Nano Makes Pocket Video Mass Market

When I walked into the local Apple store on Saturday night, I could see business was brisk. Buyers young and old were in line to purchase the new video-enabled Nano, and when I asked the guy manning the register how things were going, he said they were having trouble keeping them on store shelves. I realized then we’d entered a new phase in the adoption cycle of pocket video. Call it a tipping point, crossing the chasm, or whatever your latest “it just got huge” term du jour is, but the new video Nano will make pocket video mass market unlike any device before it.

Some would argue that the Flip kick-started the pocket video revolution by putting cheap and easy-to-use video cams in consumer pockets, purses or backpacks. No doubt, Pure Digital changed the market with its affordable and easy-to-use video cameras, but where Flip was the kindling, the new Nano is the gasoline, certain to make pocket video decidedly more mass market.

Here are the reasons why:

•    Apple’s marketing machine will create a higher level of awareness for pocket video. The Nano dominated the headlines last week as the mainstream media — and consumers — realized that video could fit into the pocket in this tiny package.

•    Unlike with the iPhone 3GS, the Nano is Apple’s first non-phone video-enabled iPod device. No doubt, having video capability on the 3GS was a big upgrade, but it isn’t the Flip killer some predicted since comparing the iPhone — with its two-year service contract and $100 monthly bills — to the $149 video Nano is, well, comparing Apples to iPods.

•    The new Nano is a very good deal. Sure, the price difference between the Nano and other pocket video cams isn’t much, but the device is, well, an iPod. It has video and music playback capabilities and connects to the huge installed base of iTunes.

•    The new Nano is a great starter camera. My 7-year-old is asking for an iPod, and when I told him the newest one shoots video, the look in his eyes told me I’d just written his Christmas list.  I’m sure I’m not the only parent who will be nagged from here to Dec. 25 for a new Nano.

Make no doubt, the new Nano will sell by the boatload. It doesn’t matter if the camera is in an awkward position or that the Flip takes better quality video, consumers young and old are going to buy them.

As for Flip, my belief is that the new Nano will actually help sell more of those, too, since Apple’s new device catapults pocket video into a higher state of consumer awareness and will double the passion among Flip evangelists, who I expect will continue to spread the good word (and deservedly so, since the Flip is a better video camera).

But whether it’s Nano or Flip, get ready for those Facebook video clips, because the pocket video fire has just spread into the mass market.

Question of the week

Do you think the new Nano is the beginning of mass-market adoption of consumer video cameras?
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Michael Wolf

Chief Analyst NextMarket Insights

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9 Comments Subscribers to comment
  1. I just got my Nano 5G. Anyone old enough to remember “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera”? I suspect an accessory market in Nano disguises will develop. Cops will hate it — a dash cam in every car. Watch out. The FM radio is seriously competent too. Gotta go search the net for a suction mount…

  2. @Michael – fair point on the iPhone not having a wide footprint with kids/lower income/older folks… but I think the arguement will hold true as more low-end and mid-level phones gain decent video capture technology.
    It’s arguable as to how valid this is as a data point – but Flickr recently reported that the iPhone has now become the most popular source camera for images posted to the site, surpassing the Canon EOS Digital which had sat in that spot for a long time ( Is obviously a movement from quality-to-convenience, something that looks to be happening in the video world as well. Phones won’t cut it for the special events in your live that you want to preserve videos/images of… but they will be the dominant capture device for everything else, which is probably 90%+ of the videos/images you take.

    1. @Dave – you do have a point – the phone becomes the swiss-army-knife, always-have-with you device for your digital lifestyle. I think that digicams and cameraphones have lived side by side for a good five years now, and the digicam continues to be a significant market.

      In a sense, this becomes a discussion about discrete, dedicated application centric devices vs. all-purpose devices. I think its interesting that the PC used to be the centerpoint for these conversations, but increasingly that do-everything device is the phone.

  3. I’m not convinced that the “always-with” feature exists with the Nano as much as it’s made out to be.
    The iPhone – no question – it’s your phone, there’s no decision to be made about whether you should bring it to where you’re going – you NEED it. The Nano on the other hand, outside of the kid demographic, it represents a second device people are carrying in addition to their phone.
    Long term, quality pocket video is something that will become second nature to phones, but i’m not convinced it holds the same role in the Nano universe.

    1. @Dave – I think long term the phone is going to be one of the most important video capture devices, but as with imaging, I’m not sure it will be the most important (I still think the discrete digicam is the go-to device for consumers who take “event” pictures). Video may ultimately be like images in that for events, consumers rely on their digicams, but for spur-of-moment types of situations, the mobile or a small handheld device may suffice for best-case video (or images).

      I think we in technology tend to think of everyone having the high-end devices, but if you were to break down the total U.S. population, a fairly small percentage would have iPhones. If you start to think about kids, teens, lower-income, students, older folks who like feature phones, etc, there is a very substantial market for non-phone video capture devices.

  4. I think the key here is the step from sharing pictures to sharing video. ^^^I have a digital camera that shoots video, but i can see the convenience factor of the Nano. If I am someone who listens to music and always have it with me, its very easy to pull it out, shoot video and then upload it to Facebook or Youtube.^^^

    Quality isn’t as important as Quantity. Different market for video in this format.

    1. @askeyfam – The always-with feature is perhaps the biggest disruptive factor of the Nano, combined with the accessibility of the device. While the iPhone 3GS is always with those that have it, I expect that the adoption of this device will be slower given that the iPhone addressable market is starting to get saturated (and there’s significant friction to buying an iPhone compared to a Nano, including service contracts, credit checks and, of course, you need an income).

  5. @Liz – yes, but I think that digicams aren’t really pocket video. Most people I know who have a digicam make a conscious decision before they go out – is this a camera-worthy event I am going to be at today?

    With pocket video, you have it in there, in your purse, pocket or backpack, and you just pull it out when something worth video-recording happens. I think that’s what the Nano does, create the ever-present videocam for the masses.

  6. But Mike, so many consumer still cameras have pretty awesome video functions already. And digital cameras are ubiquitous.

    I do think you have something in that this is a device for kids — iPod plus video with no cellphone bill. But kids get cell phones earlier and earlier these days.

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