Unscientific Headphone Research

I was on the NYC Subway last night heading home from work (Downtown E Train) and was listening to a tech oriented podcast that was discussing the recent decision by Apple to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. The discussion made me think about what sort of impact Apple’s decision may have on customer behavior relative to their headphones, and what headphones people use. How many people really go out and purchase different headphones? How many people say ‘screw it’ and just use the free ‘in the box’ Apple earbuds?

So I started to look around at the folks in the train car – a pretty solidly random collection of people. I’m going to say there were somewhere around 150 people in the car and of that total, maybe 30-40 people were wearing headphones (roughly 20%). And of those 30-40 people, at least 15 (~10% of the total and ~50% of the people wearing headphones) were rocking out using the white Apple issued headphones.

So this says to me that in this random sample of people, a solid 50% of people using headphones in this train car were not picky enough with the quality of the audio produced by their headphones to go with anything other than the less-than-elete free, hard plastic, non-maliable, non-noise reducing/cancelling Apple EarBuds that come with every iPhone.

And when you then extend that out to the new iPhone 7, you could make a stretch assumption that in a similarly random sample of people, probably more people would use the free Apple EarPods with the Lightning connector because they came in the iPhone box and they are locked into using the Lighting headphones due to the iPhone 7’s lack of a headphone jack. These people would not be that up in arms about the lack of a headphone jack because of similar behavior when there WAS a traditional headphone jack. A good chunk of them would simply say “Fuck it, why bother with better quality audio and great noise cancelling technology from someone like Bose when I can listen to the rumbling of a NYC subway and the noise of the guy chomping on a burrito, drone out the sound of ‘Arcade Fire’.” Let’s just use these Apple issued Lightning EarPods (that are basically the old, free headphones with a Lightning connector) that sound like tin cans in your ear.

An observation. Hardly scientific, but an observation none the less.

The Needle In the Haystack

For 77 years, researchers and historians have been fascinated by the disappearance of Amelia Earhart’s plane, which disappeared (crashed) during her attempt to fly around the world back in 1937. It was reported today on History.com that researchers may have found the remains of her plane based on some ‘sonar anomalies’ that they observed when researching the area that has been narrowed down as the site via evidence collected over the years. The image above shows the area they have been researching along with the different items that have been detailed over the years. The Discover News site has a slideshow with more details.

I remember watching Leonard Nemoy’s “In Search Of…” as a kid and seeing the episode about her story. What an awesome discovery if this is it.

via Discovery News

Spongebob Is Just Fine, Thank You

Spongebob Squarepants

There has been a lot of press over the past two days about a study regarding Spongebob Squarepants that psychologists Angeline Lillard and Jennifer Peterson from UVA ran. In the study, they examined three groups of twenty 4-year-olds (not to be confused with 24 year olds who watch Spongebob :) one that watched SpongeBob for nine minutes, one that watched Caillou, and one that drew with crayons and they determined that SpongeBob’s “fast-paced” format harmed the children’s memory, attention, and self-regulation.

The present study found that 9 minutes of viewing a popular fast-paced fantastical television show immediately impaired 4-year-olds [executive function], a result about which parents of young children should be aware.

This study is completely bogus for the simple fact that they did not test against the core audience that Spongebob is targeted towards – which is any kid over 6 (or stoned college students). Plus, the burden of knowing what is right and wrong for your kid to watch needs to be decided by the parent, not some study from UVA.

My son loves Spongebob. He takes a Spongebob view of the world – in that he sometimes relates things he sees or experiences in real life to Spongebob’s world. For example, from a post of mine a few years ago:

My son is a big fan of Spongebob Squarepants and all his cronies from the Krusty Krab (OK, Daddy watches it here and there too :). So a couple of weeks ago he was watching the “Who Bob, What Pant” episode, in which Spongebob suffers amnesia and somehow finds his way to a town unknown to him called New Kelp City. In his visit to New Kelp City, he is referred to as a “jobless deadbeat”.

So with this context, I take you to my son’s Kindergarten class. His teacher is talking to the class about the poor Economy and specifically discusses how people are losing their jobs and are unemployed. So as any good teacher would do, she reviews the discussion with the class to see who was paying attention. And during this review, she asks the class “So class, what is the word for people who are not working?” And without missing a beat, my son raises his hand and blurts out “Jobless deadbeats!”.

I would have paid money to have seen his teacher’s face when he said this.

Ah, the wonderful world of Spongebob.

Advancing Market Research

I can’t believe someone actually pays for studies like this. “A recent study in England has found…wait for it….almost 90% of users of DVR/TV time shifting devices skip the ads in the shows they have recorded. “It really took a market research study by Deloitte to figure this out? “Stunning!! A revelation of market research!!” In the same story, the respondents did say that if the “ad pods” were shorter, they would consider paying more attention to the advertising. As noted earlier this week, some advertisers are grappling with this situation by trying to fake out viewers by having their ads look so much like the show that they are watching that they will stop Fast Forwarding through the ads.