News, , , , , , , , — April 26, 2011 10:55 — 1 Comment

Did the smartphone kill the Flip?

the flip camcorder

What have Cisco done by abandoning the Flip?

So, the beloved Flip is no more, but was the smartphone to blame?

When owners Cisco turned off the lights on the pocket camcorder last week, many blamed the smartphone. The truth is that while the Flip can be seen as a worthy forerunner to the new and very smart cameraphones, the poor old Flip was struggling to compete with the likes of Sony and Kodak through lack of investment nevermind the new kids on the block such as Apple’s iPhone 4.

Despite Cisco splashing out $590m for Flip producer Pure Digital, the networking specialist group failed to follow-up on the Flip’s initial groundbreaking design, releasing mediocre upgrades and less than inspiring new models.

For those that never got their hands on a Flip, it was a small device (think iPod Nano) with a screen the size of a post stamp and no moving parts. Simple – and revolutionary. To record the user pressed a large red button and another red button to stop. A USB socket popped out of the side to upload footage to a computer for easy editing and publishing.

The Observer’s technology writer, John Naughton, described the device as ‘a delicious example of clean, functional design and it sold like hot cakes. From the first day it appeared on Amazon it was the site’s bestselling camcorder, and eventually captured 35% of the camcorder market’.

Another fan of the device, Judy Sandra, a Los Angeles-based blogger, author, and screenwriter, said: ‘I have a HD Flip camera and I love it! It’s simple to use, has a simple editing program for dummies, simple upload, no adapters/cords, no software to install, no batteries/charging, and the HD is excellent for such a small device.’

Purely for Pure’s technology?

So did Cisco acquire Flip purely for Pure’s technology? The New York Times’ David Pogue thinks so: ‘Cisco is very keen on videoconferencing as part of its core business. The Flip’s ultra-portable and low-cost video technology fits nicely into a desktop unit or video tablet like the Cisco Cius,’ he said.

Pogue also said smartphones were not to blame, as their arrival on the market was way too early for them to dent Flip’s sales. Of the 1bn mobile phones sold across the globe annually only a small percentage are iPhones, he said.

Many commentators are still blind to the fact that phones and cameras are no longer two separate entities with two different needs and uses. Smart moviemakers would disagree that there is a ‘place to use your MP4 camera and a place to use your phone’.

‘The Flip was an ideal device for those people not able to capture video on their phones, let alone hi-def video,’ said Pogue.

Cisco’s decision to shutdown its pocket camcorder division will not only mean the loss of 550 jobs, but will leave an empty feeling for users that not only used the device to record their videos — it also captured their hearts.

‘Not everyone has a camera phone. Of course it was too simple, efficient, elegant, and easy to use. We can’t have that in America, now can we,’ said Sandra.

What do you think? Join the discussion below.

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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