Today, Cisco has announced its intentions to shut down its Flip camera business and restructure its consumer product line. Specifically, Cisco plans to realign its consumer business with a focus on four of its five key priorities: core routing, switching and services, collaboration, architecture and video. But despite "video" being listed as one of those priorities, that no longer means "Flip" brand video.
It appears that single-purpose gadgetry has no place in today's smartphone-obsessed world.
The Flip video camera was introduced back in 2006 as the "Pure Digital Point & Shoot." One year later, it was rebranded "Flip" and began shipping millions of units. According to a 2009 article from The New York Times, the company had shipped over 2 million cameras to consumers during those brief years, with each camera costing $150 to $230, depending on the model. "The device's claim to fame has been its minimalism," wrote the Times in March.
Indeed, the camera's overall simplicity made it one of the first gadgets, in a pre-smartphone era, that allowed consumers to easily record video and upload that video to the Web. It was the device that led to the explosion of online video, helping to move those large files off the desktop and into the cloud, where they were shared on sites like YouTube and Facebook.
And because of the ease-of-use, the cameras appealed to everyone - even those who never thought they could manage a camcorder.
Its popularity led to the acquisition by Cisco Systems in March 2009 for $590 million in stock, as the company was making moves into the consumer business.
But by June 2009, however, TechCrunch's founder Michael Arrington proclaimed that, despite Cisco's selling $150 million of these cameras over the past year, the Flip camera was, essentially, doomed. "They face a new type of threat they can't defeat," he wrote. "The video capable iPhone, and video mobile phones in general, will make them irrelevant in the next couple of years."
Score one for Arrington and his timing. It's now April 2011 - only a couple of months shy of precisely two years, as he predicted.
And today, Flip is dead.
Cisco says it will support current FlipShare customers and partners during a transition plan. In addition, the company says it will refocus its Home Networking business for greater profitability, integrate the Cisco umi into its Business TelePresence product line and asses the core video technology integration of Cisco's Eos media solutions with "other market opportunities."
The full press release is here.