PHOENIX - The Flip will flip no more. Cisco announced this week that it's shutting down its Flip camcorder division, which it purchased in 2009 for almost $600 million.
It came as a shock to many of us who were under the impression that Flip camcorders were still selling really well. Afterall, "Flip cam" has become synonymous with handheld digital camcorders.
Even non-Flip brands are referred to as "Flip cams". They seemed to own the market. The Flip UltraHD camcorder still holds the top spot in Amazon.com's Shoot and Share Video section.
Many say that Cisco failed to keep up with the Joneses. Companies like Kodak, Creative and Sony are now cranking out pocket camcorders, too. Many of them have more features and better video.
Others argue that the pocket camcorder market is disappearing altogether as more smartphones shoot HD video. Why carry a camcorder when your cell phone can shoot video too, right?
I'm not so sure either of those arguments are the main reason Flip is flopping. I think Cisco made a business decision to focus on what they're good at, business customers. Consumer products, like the Flip, may have been taking away from their focus.
Sure, profits for Flip may have been shrinking but a few new models could quickly reinvigorate that. Cell phones may shoot HD video too, but I think there will be a strong market for stand alone pocket camcorders for a long time to come. Afterall, the percentage of smartphones versus basic cell phones is still very small. Some of us just like dedicated devices that do one thing really well. For example, as good as cell phone pictures have become, I highly doubt many people have thrown away their still camera.
I talked with Pete Palermo, Kodak director of worldwide consumer design and marketing, on the phone this week. He said they were as shocked as everyone else when Cisco made the annoucement.
Palermo said the pocket camcorder market is "a category that continues to grow, a category that draws a lot of attention from consumers and a tremendous amount of support from both brick and mortar and online retailers around the world."
Palermo is confident that the pocket camcorder market is not going away with the rise in cell phone video quality.
"There will always be a place for single function devices in the consumer electronics world provided the manufacturer and other competitors are providing a compelling value proposition compared to a multifunction devices," added Palermo.
Flip created the pocket camcorder market. It's sad to see them go. Their uber-simple design and one-button controls made the flip a cinch to use. Despite a lack of extra options and inputs, the Flip cameras also just worked. Perhaps simplicity is what inevitbly killed the Flip in a world of ever-advancing consumers.
Listen to the entire interview with Kodak's Pete Palermo below:
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