Friday, April 22, 2011

The Flip Video Camera – Cisco’s Decision to Abandon a Market

For Christmas 2008, Santa surprised me with a Flip Video camera. I hadn’t asked for it, and didn’t know I needed it, but I was delighted with the gift. There was a lot to like about this video camera:

It was small and sleek and weighed less than a pound. I could put it in a pocket or a handbag.

Flip UltraHD Video Camera - Black, 8 GB, 2 Hours (3rd Generation) NEWEST MODELIt was simple and intuitive. Push the red button to start recording, push the red button to stop recording. Flip out the USB to connect it to my computer to download videos. Instantly share videos on facebook or send them to friends. There was no need to become a master photographer, and no need to even read the instructions.

I loved everything about it.

According to the New York Times’ David Pogue, the Flip has a 35 percent share of the camcorder market and it’s the top selling camcorder on Amazon.

Just who abandons a market when they have a top-rated product and top market share?

Cisco does. Cisco bought the company that made the Flip just two years ago, and last week they announced that they are abandoning the product line, laying off 550 workers.

Some might say the market for a hand-held video camera was dying off as our smartphones can now shoot video. But no smartphone I have seen can hold a candle to the Flip. The Flip did one thing, but it did it extremely well. Which once again raises the question of dedicated versus multi-purpose devices. I like that my smartphone can take video, but I don’t expect to see the same kind of high quality HD video from my smartphone as I can get on my Flip – not for a very long time.

I’m hanging onto mine. It will be a collector’s item some day.


Dave E said...

I only recently came across the flip 'in use' as it were, I had not paid it much attention before that. However I was impressed and was considering getting one and hen I read it was being dropped so that was the end of that idea pretty much.
Maybe I should get one anyway since it's just a consumer product (IE, throw away!).
You do have to wonder about the decision to drop it though. Let's face it, there are still plenty of one function, dedicated devices around (cameras, gps devices etc) that still sell well in spite of many phones having similar (or even better) capabilities.
One of the things I like about the flip is, as you mentioned, it's size. It slips into a pocket easily. I wonder if that limitation will be an issue for the many tablet computers that are appearing on the market. Sure they are cool, but I can put an iPhone in my pocket, not so much an iPad. I wonder if they will come out with special cargo pants with pockets specially made to hold tablets and their ilk (iPants!).

Colette said...

Ha! iPants -- now there's an idea!

Dave E - I think if you wait a month or so you may be able to get a really deal on a Flip.

Liz Fichera said...

You gotta wonder what goes through the minds of certain business execs. Abandonning a product that's selling well? I wonder if they're coming out with a newer and better product?

Stephen D said...

Maybe they needed a $590M write-off or just did not want something this good interfering with another Cisco venture. But it does seem to be an odd business strategy.

Colette said...

It's sad -- the company was doing so well before Cisco bought it -- now they are all out of jobs.

Carol Kilgore said...

I have learned that it's a good thing I didn't choose videography for a career. I'm SO not good at it.

Joanne said...

I like the dedicated use gadgets. My point and shoot camera is just that. So is my gps, and my eReader. Too bad about the flip. I doubt they'll be replacing it with something better if they laid-off the workers :/

Jennifer said...

I have a Flip Mino that isn't working right now, I wonder how much longer they will be offering customer support? lol

Melissa said...

It's sad. The Flip was a victim of poor corporate decisionmaking. Cisco never should have bought them in the first place, and now they are killing the Flip because they are trying to get back to what they're good at (which is not consumer products). We've had a Flip for several years, and I bought one more when I found out it's going away. It's a great product and as you said, smartphones don't hold a candle to it in terms of video quality and ease of use. I have a smartphone but I still use my Flip, and will for as long as it lasts.

fiber optic camera said...

There are better cameras in the market nowadays.

polycom ip 550 said...

I think it is disappointing that CISCO has shelved production for the Flip Camera after just one initial result. They did not give it much choice.