Did Flip Have to Die?

By  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm

The New York Times’ David Pogue has a nice, angry elegy for the Flip camcorder, which Cisco killed earlier this week. David mentions that Cisco recently briefed him on the next-generation Flips, which it had planned to introduce yesterday. I saw ‘em too, earlier this month–they had built-in Wi-Fi which permitted both wireless transfers to a computer and live streaming to the Web, and while they weren’t a transcendent advance on earlier Flips, they did look like fun. I wonder what happened to all the new Flips which were manufactured but which won’t ever reach store shelves?

While I’m linking to smart coverage of the Flipocalypse : Michael Mace points out that the emergence of smartphones that do good video didn’t have to render Flip irrelevant (he quotes me at the end, but I’d like his post even if he didn’t).

 
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  1. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Yeah, it had to die. Flip is an app now.

    A $229 iPod touch has HD video recording, HD video editing via a $5 iMovie app, and HD video upload to YouTube (and others) direct from the device. That not only replaces the Flip, it replaces the PC you were going to flip out the Flip's USB and plug into so you could offload the video, edit it, and share it. You get a Flip and a PC and an iPod. And it's about 20% of the size, 500% of the recording time, and 1000% of the battery life.

    A while ago, I think it was Robert Scobleizer who said camera makers were missing the boat on wireless. They are still all about USB. Cisco would have had to replace the USB on the Flip with Wi-Fi and/or 3G, and they would have had to have done it like 2 years ago. Cisco just didn't understand the pace of change they were going to have to keep up with.

    Although you will hear that Flip had 21% of the US consumer camcorder market, and was the best-selling consumer camcorder in the US, that only means they were the most successful loser. Apple alone shipped more than 10 times the camcorders last year than Cisco, bit they were counted as "smartphones" or "media players." If you actually do a real count of camcorders, the dedicated devices are only a very small fraction.

    Apple sells more iPod apps than standalone iPods also. Many times more. Cisco did not make Flip apps to replace standalone Flips, they let Apple do it. Cisco thought of Flip as "the next iPod" but they didn't notice the iPod was already just an iPhone app.

  2. Brandon Backlin Says:

    I'm thinking along the same lines as Hamranhansenhansen. At the loss of quality (that iPod Touch and new iPad camera is complete garbage), you do get the convergence of editing software with the hardware. I simply wish Apple used the same camera as the iPhone on the iPod Touch and iPad 2. But, for those who care about quality or originality of editing; they would probably sink their money into even better cameras than the Flip, with desktop editing software.

  3. Keith Shaw Says:

    There's a point in Pogue's column that hit the mark for me – not everyone on the planet owns an iPhone, so it's difficult to say that the smartphone has killed the Flip's usefulness. He mentions that it's much easier to turn on the Flip and hit the button to record than it is to grab your phone, unlock it with the password, find the camera app, flip the switch to video and then start recording (which is what you have to do with an iPhone). Those spontaneous moments (especially those of us with kids) are much easier to get with the Flip. My wife, sister-in-law and a lot of other friends who aren't as tech savvy as us love their Flips.

    Still, it had some limitations – the sound quality was horrible, especially if you were in a crowded area. The zoom was non-existent, which made shooting things like soccer games useless. And while we may have been shooting a lot of videos with the camera, for the most part they stayed either on the device or on the PC – the FlipShare software wasn't that good, and uploading the videos (especially high-def) took way too long.

    My prediction – Apple will somehow take advantage of this and develop their own Flip-like device, call it the iCamera or something like that. Remember, they didn't invent the MP3 player or the tablet, they just made it something better – I could see a device that takes great images and also includes good software for editing and uploading (whether to a Mac or the cloud).

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