Barely two years ago, networking giant Cisco purchased the Flip video camera (by buying Pure Digital, the makers of the Flip camera) and folded the Flip USB video camera business into the Cisco brand. This week Cisco has announced that they are killing the division, and killing the Flip camera, and a lot of people are pretty unhappy about it. Fortunately, the Flip camera is still available for purchase (links below); unfortunately, it won’t be supported. On the other hand, the Flip camera is so darned simple and straight-forward, it doesn’t need a whole lot of support.
In fact, the support originally offered by Pure Digital was problematic anyways, but the camera itself is a treat.
Which gives us pause to wonder (and grieve): why is Cisco killing off the Flip, a business unit for which they paid $590 million just two years ago? Why not sell it off, or let Pure Digital resurrect (assuming they are interested)?
According to people inside Cisco, the company has decided that it needs to focus more on its core products (such as networking), and not get distracted by side lines such as consumer electronics.
According to Cisco CEO John Chambers, “We are making key, targeted moves as we align operations in support of our network-centric platform strategy. As we move forward, our consumer efforts will focus on how we help our enterprise and service provider customers optimize and expand their offerings for consumers, and help ensure the network’s ability to deliver on those offerings.”
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It also turns out that sales of the Flip, considered a market leader, had dipped substantially during last holiday season. Some see this as handwriting on the wall, citing the fact that more and more cell phones now have (relatively) high quality video cameras built into them. But at least some analysts say that this owing to marketing failures on the part of Cisco, in a market which has seen overall sales for this type of product increase. Stephen Baker, with the market research company NPD, says that the decline in Flip sales since Cisco acquired it has everything to do with Cisco’s “strategic marketing missteps, and more aggressive competition, as opposed to any evidence of an underlying fall in demand.”
Still, says Karen Tillman, a spokesperson for Cisco, “We learned so much from this acquisition. We gained a lot of understanding about video and how people consume video. And those things will only help as we work to advance and drive demand for our core products.”
But it won’t help those diehard Flip fans, and businesses built on providing after-market services to Flip consumers, such as Pixability, a company that sends you a Flip, which you fill with your own video footage, and then send back to have it turned into a professional-grade marketing video for your company.
What will help diehard Flip fans, however, is that you can still buy the Flip on Amazon, at least while supplies last, and for a darned good price. So if you want one, or an extra one, grab one here:
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