After paying $590 million to acquire Pure Digital and its hugely popular low-cost Flip video recorders, Cisco has just announced that it is closing down the business unit. By Guy Daniels.
Cisco yesterday announced a realignment of its business operations, saying that it would “close down its Flip business and support current FlipShare customers and partners with a transition plan”. Here’s how they explained the news in a press statement:
“Cisco will exit aspects of its consumer businesses and realign the remaining consumer business to support four of its five key company priorities – core routing, switching and services; collaboration; architectures; and video.”
Obviously “video” does not include the Flip… And so its short-lived life ends as abruptly as it began, just five years ago. It wasn’t until 2007 though that Pure Digital rebranded its ‘Point and Shoot’ device as the ‘Flip’ and sales took off.
According to a 2009 article from The New York Times, unearthed by ReadWriteWeb
, the company at that point had shipped over two million cameras to consumers, with each camera costing $150 to $230.
But even then there was bewilderment about the Flip, and what it’s long-term prospects were, as mobile phone cameras became increasingly powerful. The Flip was designed to be simple to use – just press the big red button to shoot, then plug the whole camera directly into your PC to start an automatic download. It didn’t have the features of more traditional camcorders, so cameraphones were it’s main rival. And to be honest, who wants to carry around yet another device – a bulky one at that?
Meanwhile, Cisco was looking at ways of supporting its message that the future of the Web was video. What better way than to encourage consumers to start shooting and sharing video via their multiple social networks? And so Cisco bought Pure Video in March 2009 for $590 million, oblivious to the threat of the video-enabled mobile phone.
Mobiles don’t require you to plug into a computer and download files before you share them – you can do it direct from the phone over wi-fi or cellular. One less step in the social video sharing experience.
Michael Arrington suggested on TechCrunch back in June 2009 that “there’s no reason why Cisco shouldn’t work with handset makers to make them ‘Flip certified’ – high quality video hardware plus the awesome Flip software installed right on the phone.” But he added this prescient warning:
“One thing is certain – in another year there will likely be multiple mobile devices that record video as well as the Flip, and have the benefit of GPS geo-stamping and mobile uploading. Flip will hit a huge brick wall. If the brand wants to live, it needs to adapt.”
And adapt is exactly what it didn’t do. So, farewell then, Flip. It was nice seeing you.
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