By Harry McCracken | Friday, May 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm
How abruptly did Cisco kill the beloved, very popular Flip camcorder? It moved so suddenly that there are still street ads up for the thing, or at least were as of a couple of weeks ago. Some Flip dealers don’t seem to be aware that it’s a dead gadget walking. Heck, it remains the best-selling camcorder on Amazon. Cisco itself will even still happily sell you a Flip.
But the company seems to be in a rush to leave its Flip days behind it. The New York Times is reporting that as of yesterday, videos uploaded to FlipShare, the Flip’s video-sharing service, will expire after thirty days. That apparently includes videos already on the service, which means that anyone who uploaded videos to FlipShare that aren’t disposable needs to find a new home for them.
Here’s the e-mail the company sent to FlipShare owners this week:
Dear FlipShare user,
Thank you for your loyalty and support of Flip Video over the years. In light of Cisco’s recent announcement regarding the future of the Flip business, we wanted to address your questions related to FlipShare software.
FlipShare desktop and mobile software will continue to be functional and supported for 2 ½ years (until 12/31/2013). However, we want to let you know the following:
- Friends and family can watch, download and save any video you have shared with them*
- Starting May 12, 2011, videos shared with an individual, group, Flip Channel or Twitter will only be available online for viewing and downloading for up to 30 days after being sent (the 30-day limit will also apply to videos shared previously)
- Videos shared on Facebook and YouTube as well as videos stored in FlipShare on your computer will not be impacted and do not have a 30-day limit
We will continue to provide technical support for both Flip video cameras and FlipShare until 12/31/2013. FAQs on these changes are also available at support.theflip.com/flipshare.
We hope you will continue to enjoy your Flip video camera and FlipShare.
The Flip Video team
*Video download requires approval by sender
Now, FlipShare is only one of many places you can put your Flip videos–and the FlipShare software also lets you upload them to Facebook and YouTube, neither of which are affected by the cut-off date. The new policy doesn’t turn the Flip into a doorstop, but it does make uploading stuff to FlipShare into an unappealing proposition–which is, presumably, the point; Cisco is trying to nudge people towards the exit. In the words of my grandma, it’s saying “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”
It seems far too soon to be stripping the Flip of functionality that people thought they were getting when they bought it. And I don’t see any explanation of this 30 day expiration policy on the Flip’s site. If it’s still selling Flips–and mentioning FlipShare.com as a selling point–shouldn’t people know before they buy?
The good news is that the company isn’t leaving current and prospective Flip owners entirely in the lurch: It will still provide support for Flips through December 31st, 2013, and FlipShare.com won’t shut down until then. That’s fair enough–nobody expects manufacturers to support defunct products forever. But by winding down FlipShare long before Flip recedes into history, it’s not doing much to improve what was already a strange and unfortunate fate for a great consumer electronics product.