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'Geeky' unboxing videos spread online

By Iain Mackenzie
Newsbeat technology reporter

You may not have heard of an unboxing video before, but it's proving a popular phenomenon on many video-sharing sites like YouTube. It's so popular in fact, that some technology companies are looking to use it to their own advantage.

YouTube screen grab
YouTube's most popular unboxing clip has two million views

"User manual… software disk… charger."

One item at a time they are lifted out of the box and held-up for the camera.

"Woo. Look, there I am," exclaims the narrator - finally removing the Blackberry Storm 9630.

For a moment his face is reflected on the screen, peering over a camera.

This is an unboxing video. Internet phenomenon and, some argue, the geekiest pastime known to man.

Technology enthusiasts - including amateurs, bloggers and professional reviewers - film themselves taking gadgets out of their packaging.

Product reviews

The videos are then posted on sites such as YouTube and Dailymotion.

Mobile phones and laptops are among the most popular items, although T-shirts and even a pillow have been the subject of unboxing videos.

Twenty-seven-year-old student Trentonn Smith from Virginia has his own YouTube channel featuring technology reviews.

"Unboxing videos give people a sense of what to expect if they decide to purchase the same item," said Trenton.

"Whatever the unboxer happens to experience is raw and unscripted as they are revealing the new tech toy.
Mobile phone
Mobile phones and laptops make for popular unboxing videos

"It becomes a review of the presentation delivered through its packaging and build quality."

A search for "unboxing" on YouTube returns more than 48,000 results.

Temptation to buy

One of the most viewed clips is a three-minute film of a Macbook Air laptop being taken out of its box. The video has been watched almost half-a-million times.

New Yorker Piers Nunn admits to being an unboxing fan. He said: "I like to know what wonderful devices there are out there, and if I'm impressed by what I see in the video, then of course I would be tempted to buy the product.

"It's maybe geeky, but that's me in general."

For some viewers, unboxing videos may help stave-off the craving to own, according to Leigh Geary from

"The sort of people who watch are either those considering buying it or who have ordered it and are waiting for it to arrive," said Leigh.

"I compare unboxing videos to the funny stuff that happens on Top Gear, because if the viewer had that Porsche to play with he'd probably want to wheel-spin it and play about too."

Advertising interest

As well as removing the devices from their packaging, many unboxers also feature an element of product review.

Such is their popularity, manufacturers are increasingly willing to loan them devices.

"A lot will put web bloggers and websites into a lower category than traditional print," said Leigh Geary.

"When a PR company does see the finished result they're usually quite impressed and can see how it will benefit them."

At least one technology company has gone a step further, creating its own unboxing video.

Samsung's video of the Omnia i900 mobile phone is YouTube's most popular unboxing clip, with more than two million views.
You need a good quality camera, adequate on-site lighting… a great video-editing suite to add some special effects, and polish to the final product doesn't hurt either
Blogger Trentonn Smith

Posted by a fictitious blogger called Technivator, the sequence was actually created by the manufacturer's marketing department in collaboration with The Viral Factory.

Some amateur reviewers are unhappy with the phenomenon being commercialised.

However Samsung has defended its campaign.

"We were careful to include description text for the YouTube video starting with the words 'promotional content' in upper case," said Blake Harrop, head of interactive marketing for Samsung Mobile.

"The video was created as a tribute to the creators and viewers of unboxing videos. We hoped that they would be entertained by the content.

Rough and ready approach

"These people are the opinion leaders and lead users of our target market."

Samsung's video seeks to emulate the home-made style of many unboxing videos, but also incorporates some expensive special effects.

Elsewhere, production values vary widely.

"You need a good quality camera, adequate on-site lighting… a great video-editing suite to add some special effects, and polish to the final product doesn't hurt either," said blogger Trentonn Smith.

Coolsmartphone's Leigh Geary favours the more rough and ready approach: "People do respond in the forums and say we should get you a tripod for Christmas, but they're all huge fans."

He added: "I'm not overly keen on some unboxing videos which feature a rock-steady camera and a very geeky guy reeling off the specs of the device.

"'Oh, this is the 528 Mhz CPU with an increased RAM of 512MB, which is 256MB more than the XYZ model from last year."

Of course not. That would be geeky.

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