Remember furniture coverings? Those plastic things that people put over their furniture to protect them from stains and damage, but made them uncomfortable ugly to look at? Notice how they're not around anymore?
This is my theory about these protective cases. We put them around things that are valuable to us, and are new. I think those furniture coverings were popular in the 50's and 60's when a lot of people were new to the middle class and the idea of expensive new furniture was a bit of a novelty. So they protected them. Now that people are more used to them, they don't cover them up as much, because they're not as freaked out about a few scratches or stains.
I think it's the same with gadget cases. I used to hate looking at those stupid leather cell phone cases that seemed to be endemic among middle-aged men. Why make the phone thicker and harder to fit in your pocket? Why make the keys harder to press by putting a piece of plastic over them? I think people put these cases on their cell phones because they were new to them, and valuable. Now that cell phones are so ubiquitous, you almost never see the cases anymore. People are used to them.
Now what's getting wrapped up in ugly? iPods. Same thing. Fairly new product, pretty expensive, so people throw a case on them to protect them. Okay, protecting the screen is one thing - and there are guards which just protect that. But why take such a nicely designed product that fits so well in your pocket and cover it up with ugly leather or plastic and make it hard to fit in your pocket? Really, will surface scratches make the thing any less useful to you? And how can you enjoy that scratch-free product when it's all covered up?
I've honestly never seen someone on the subway with out a case for their nano. I think people see that it's so small, it needs to be protected. It doesn't. Because the nano doesn't do video, screen scratches aren't that big a deal - they all but disappear when the screen is illuminated. I borrow my wife's nano a lot, and I never use a case for it.
Anyway, stay tuned for my next rant - clip on belt cases.
And persistent bluetooth headset wearers. (Unless you're driving, keep it in your pocket until you get a call okay?)