Is the iPad and similar tablets the platform that Web video has been waiting for? According to a new study of it video usage on its own site MeFeedia discovered that the average viewing time for a video on the iPad is five minutes. According to Business Insider's Jay Yarrow in his reporting on the stats, iPad users are spending twice as long with video than do Desktop viewers. In fact, MeFeedia's number suggest that users of any mobile access point, from Symbian to Android and iPhone have longer hang times with a video than the PC. The iPad, however, is off the charts in comparison with Web video viewing.
Some of this relatively high engagement on an iPad can be explained away by the more limited catalog of video available on mobile and the degree of commitment it takes to picking and watching one. In other words, video on mobile is still relatively sluggish and is not as conducive to sampling as clip-hopping may be on a snappier desktop. That said, anyone who has lived with an iPad for a while knows precisely why video viewing times on this device are so high. It is a luscious piece of hardware that lets you fall into a video in an immersive way that the desktop does not. A well executed embedded video like the ones you see in the WSJ app or on CNN's iPad-friendly pages, are a joy to use. They often will play embedded in the page, replicating that Harry Potter newspaper effect or expand to full screen in a smooth zoom with a single tap. The viewer's closeness to the screen adds a unique sense of immersion, and I think we are just beginning to understand that the touch interface creates a special connection with almost all media.
As a venue for video content providers and for advertisers, the level of engagement the tablet format promises cannot be ignored. ABI Research just revised radically its projections for tablet sales this year. Back in February before the iPad launch the company estimated 4 million tablets would be sold in 2010. Well, we're already in mid-summer and Apple is close to surpassing that estimate, and the Android-based competitors haven't even hi the market. Now, ABI says tablet sales (primarily iPads) will be 11 million by year's end.
Web video producers can keep chasing that Web-to-TV set top box connection. But one of the most compelling video experiences of may be in your lap.