Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

Summary: Once a darling gadget that essentially founded the HD mini-camcorder market, the Flip is no more. What went wrong?


Once a darling gadget that essentially founded the HD mini-camcorder market, the Flip is no more. What went wrong?

Cisco has announced that it will be axing the Flip camcorder brand, along with a few other consumer ventures as part of a restructuring plan. The real casualties are the 550 jobs going with it, but the Flip won't be missed all that much.

Before Cisco picked up Pure Digital Technologies (the original maker of Flip) in 2009, the brand had already been growing steadily. The Flip, along with its competitors (i.e. Sony's Bloggie and RCA's Small Wonder), became popular for several reasons. Primarily, they made camcorders affordable and easy-to-use for the average consumer. Professional videographers might have bought them for quick shooting on-the-go, but otherwise, the Flip was intended to be a mass market product. Additionally, the Flip offered good quality for the price around 2007 and 2008 when these gadgets were bursting on to the scene.

But the technology of Flip never really evolved since then, making it a very stale gadget. Sure, even once Cisco picked up Flip, new models continued to come out each year. Yet Cisco dropped the ball by never pushing further with Flip. It never moved beyond 720p HD video quality, and it never got HDMI connectivity.

Smartphones came along and now offer specs better and beyond mini-camcorders with full HD 1080p video recording. The Flip was ideal for the casual consumer who didn't have much or any experience with camcorders and just wanted something easy to carry for recording fun videos. Obviously, mini-camcorders can be put to use for business purposes and reporting, but Flip is available in many different bright hues and colorful patterns that aren't exactly for the professional-minded.

Again, smartphones fill the void here and surpass Flip with integrated Wi-Fi and 3G access for easy sharing from anywhere. Consumers don't have to (and probably don't want to) carry multiple gadgets around anymore when the smartphone simplifies things. It also just seems like a waste of money when a mobile phone will do the same thing. Smartphones haven't made point-and-shoot cameras irrelevant yet, but we could be seeing just that within a few years.

The only kind of mini-camcorders that will probably stick around for awhile are the niche models, such as the waterproof Kodak PlaySport. It's going to be awhile before a waterproof smartphone is made available - if that ever even happens. At least this model is still cheap and serves a special purpose.

Considering that Cisco killed off Flip, one has to wonder whether or not the brand would have survived. That's quite possible. Yet unless the specs were stepped up and Pure Digital (or whomever else would be in charge) fashioned some more rugged models to step in where smartphones couldn't, Flip wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway.

Flip definitely had its place for a time, but that time has been over for awhile now.

Correction: The current line of Flip camcorders do in fact have micro and mini-HDMI ports. However, cables are not included in the box.

Topics: Cisco, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

    My phone doesn't have a camera. It makes and receives calls and texts. That's all I use it for, and that's all I want my phone to do. More functions in a phone mean more things to break. Simpler is better!

    I have a camera for stills and short (up to about 15 minute) videos. Eventually I'd like a digital camcorder so that I can do longer videos, without breaking up an event and then pasting the parts back together again (i.e., student drama productions). I hope someone still makes camcorders by the time I get around to buying one!
    • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

      Wow, really? When you get around to buying one? Is this post coming from 1970?
      E Conner
    • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

      @pwoodruff@... With that post I'm surprised that you have the desire to use the technology available to make that post...
      • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

        @athynz Not everybody wants to spend big money on a stupid phone... I also have a dumb phone and Im quite happy with just using it as a PHONE. I dont even text. I am not interested in paying for data on a phone.

        Btw: My computer is a hand built i5 2500k @ 4.5GHz, sabertooth P67, 8GB RAM 1600MHz, Vertex 2 as a boot disk and a old GTX 470.

        Priorities, you gotta have some.
        Tommy S.
    • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

      Is this a cross-post from USENET :-)
    • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

      Er, no.
      Couldn't see the point of the Flip when all it does is duplicate the same ability I have with various other devices. At least Cisco didn't apply its normal pricing policies to this device, or its RRP would have been $1000!
  • It filled a niche

    Which doesn't exist any more. Simple enough. It made sense back when phones couldn't do passable video and regular consumer grade video cameras were expensive and large. Now, regular video cameras are much smaller and cheaper, even the cheapest point and shoot camera has HD video and most cell phones do as well.
    • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

      @oncall <br>That niche still exists because for all their capabilities, the audio recording quality on smartphones sucks. Where the audio is as critical as the video, a smartphone won't hack it.
      That's why camcorders like the Zoom Q3HD have sold over 200k units in the past year alone.
      • That Zoom looks cool


        But it's a $300 specialized video camera made especially for capturing high quality "stereo sound". It's far more niche than a flip with a far smaller market. OK yeah I guess there will always be a tiny niche market for some one trick doodad for people who know what they want and where to find it. The rest of us are going to be using what we already carry.
    • The niche still exists

      @oncall: While it's true that smart phones and even cheap P&S cameras have video capability, they rarely have more than about 5 minutes of capacity unless you're willing to spend a lot more. My 5-year-old FlipHD still takes better video that my iPhone4 and gives me a full hour of recording time, though I admit its low-light capability is abysmal. Still, the Flip cost no more than many of those P&S cameras you mentioned.

      Personally, I'm disappointed with Cisco for ruining a progressive product. It could have gone so much farther.
      • Look on the bright side


        There are still a few competitors that are going to tough it out, more business for them while it lasts. You still have options, and Ebay. Yes, I know your pain, I too have loved products that were ultimately doomed.
      • Look on the bright side...

        @oncall: Aye. I've lost Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn... All three GM brands that I loved. I can't even look GM in the face any more because out of their entire lineup, they only have one model I would even consider. At least Ford and Chrysler have two apiece, and Chrysler has proven pretty reliable for me when I've owned them.

        Personally, I still think the Flip was the best of the compact camcorder bunch. I'm not willing to set a more expensive camcorder on the roll cage of my Jeep when I'm off-roading--you just never know what might happen when you go up that steep hill and reach the top--or blast through that axle-deep mud hole that turns out to be fender deep.
      • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

        @vulpine@... Funny my point and shoot can take up to one hour of 1024 HD, even without the smartcard it will record 15 minutes on built in memory. I've never had trouble with the sound recording abilities either. Its more convenient to throw in my bag and have it available for immediate needs. My vidcam tends to stay in my office unless I am going out with the express purpose of taking video of some event, but really most of my recording is rather impromtu.
      • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

        @Rndmacts: You said it yourself--without the added SD card, you only get 15 minutes of recording. I did that well with my 2001 Olympus C-2100uz, though I'll admit it wasn't HD.

        The Flip rides in my belt pouch 100% of the time--I'm almost never without it, and like I said, I'm not scared of mounting the camera on my roll cage or even on the hood of my Jeep while I'm driving.

        The Flip is probably the best choice for decent-quality impromptu recording--even over most point & shoot cameras and smart phones. I'm not saying there aren't better cameras in one way or another, but as a single-purpose device, I know of few better for the price. I'm not willing to risk a more expensive camera where I use my Flip regularly.
  • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

    I almost bought one yesterday but too many reviews citing soft images changed my mind. I decided to stay with my phone.
  • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

    yes, I think people will miss it for it's lengthy videos...but you have a couple of humorous inaccuracies in your article (humorous because all you have to do is look at the picture). The picture you show is the model that IS 1080p and right there, that little connection on the side is HDMI.
    I think this is a case of a large company taking over a product that a small company had the passion to make popular, but then they dropped the ball because they had other priorities. I've seen that happen.
    I hope the support will continue, I'd be sad to see my little flips become extinct.
    • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

      @Simpletechguru 'Like' and Share the Save The Flip Cam page! Let Cisco know there are other options!
  • Kodak Zi8 much better

    Did a bunch of testing for our school, including the most expensive Flip, and Zi8 came out ahead. Even better than the newer Kodaks.
  • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

    Was looking to buy one of these last Christmas for my daughter, but then I got to comparing what it did to a very nice digital SLR (non-interchangeable lens type) that also did HD video. Didn't make much sense to buy the Flip when the camera would be so much more versatile.
  • RE: Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

    I, for one, will miss the Flip - well... I'll still HAVE my Flip (carry it in my case (bag, business over-the-shoulder thing: not really a brief case)) and really like it for certain instances.

    HD video isn't always needed. HD above 720p is almost NEVER needed for those of us working primarily online. 16x9 vs 4x3 isn't always the preferred way. And having created what I call the One Camera, One Take video, the Flip was perfect where my phone's HD or our Kodak Zi8's video don't work as well. (See One Camera, One Take here:

    The Flip software makes uploading to the web or Facebook MUCH easier than my phone except those few times that I upload wirelessly (and the apps I use don't always get the job done, especially if I'm not in range of Wi-Fi).

    But... is The Flip really dead?

    Not to those of use who have one. And perhaps not to future generations either. If other corporate examples are any example (think P&G killing Snapple and then selling it and its coming back from the grave), we may not have seen the last of The Flip - gotta assume that Cisco would rather get SOME money for it in a sale rather than simply taking a hit on their books.

    The Flip is dead - Long Live The Flip!

    Charlie Seymour Jr