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Flipped Out: The death of Flip Video Cameras

Flip Cameras

What does it mean that Cisco has closed down their Flip video unit? It’s clearly doesn’t mean that video as a web entertainment is shrinking in any way.  In fact, it’s a sign of growth:  the market has outpaced and run roughshod over one of its innovators. I claim no insider knowledge, but here are some thoughts on the problems of Flip Video that may have lead to their demise:

The rise of smartphone video. The success of Flip and video in general caused manufactuers of iPhones, Androids and other smartphones (and their tablet relatives) to focus on adding simple video functionality to their products.  They all take HD Video now, in almost exactly the same way as the Flip. They’re easy to plug into the computer– and many transmit video wirelessly or by phone network.  Plus they hold way more data than the Flips. If you can carry one device that does it all, with no loss of quality, why carry a separate camera?

Market Specialization. Serious videographers (and many families) get standalone cameras with real optical zoom lenses and big, high quality chips for better video quality than Flip can deliver. Serious sports shooters might pick up a shock-proof, mountable GoPro. The more casual knockaround user might get the waterproof Kodak Playsport. Nobody needed a Flip.

Specious Marketing: This is my personal bias (see the book) but Flip told consumers “Just point and shoot. It will be beautiful.” I beg to differ. To make great video actually takes some mindful focus. A little thought and a little practice. I know they were going for “ease of use”, but that simple product benefit got run over by smartphones. They failed to convince us of any other benefit. And they failed to help consumers become addicted to video…and to their Flips.

Bad Parenting. Cisco is not a consumer oriented company.  They’re live in the world of b-2-b. As the market changed after their acquisition of Flip, they either failed to notice or failed to address the changes. When it got too tough, they bailed.

Will we miss Flip Video? Some. We’ll remember them fondly for helping contribute to video’s incredible growth. Then we’ll take out our iPhones, shoot our kid’s birthday party, and upload wirelessly to the web.

2 thoughts on “Flipped Out: The death of Flip Video Cameras

  1. Dear Steve,

    I must take exception to this article about the demise of the flip. I am an avid flip user. I use their SD & HD versions for different reasons. Their simplicity has actually made me a better videographer because I have to concentrate a lot more on composition, angles and light. I use the flip constantly to shoot the sun and the clouds. That is my little niche. I also put crystals in front of the flip and use the ultra hd underwater with its casing.

    The software for "flipshare" is very easy to use for us "guys" that are not great on the computer. I am your basic email & search the web computer user. So, "flipshare's" ease of operation allows me to make movies and snapshots and send them to the appropriate people.

    Finally, I have recommended the flip to many friends and relatives. They bought it and love it. I think flip got a raw deal from Cisco and still do not understand why they did not allow another company to buy it from them. Hopefully, flip might become one of those cults like polaroid or the plastic cameras.

    Good luck with the book. I have learned a lot all ready.

    Phil

    • I agree that Flip got a raw deal from Cisco, but as I play with my 1080p iPhone I’m thinking that the days of these kind of standalone cameras are numbered. We’ll see. Meanwhile the Kodak pocket videos are pretty good– I own a couple of those, and have enjoyed using them (and, full disclosure, they’re a sponsor).

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