Farewell Flip

BBC News is reporting that Cisco Systems, the world’s largest provider of computer networking gear, is winding up its Flip video camera operation. Cisco bought Flip’s makers in 2009 and it seemed to be a pretty safe bet. After all, the innovative little camcorders were easy to use and looked like they had a bright future ahead of them.

Fast forward to 2011 and Cisco are refocusing on their core business as a network equipment provider which, unfortunately, means the Flip is going the way of the Dodo.

When you think about it, this makes total sense. When a company tries to diversify too much it loses focus and direction. Think about that much-loved fixture of the British High Street, Woolworths. In later years it never really seemed to know what it was trying to sell… pretty much everything, I think. Or take a look at WH Smith. Rather than focusing on being a top-notch newsagent and bookshop, it’s a bit of a mish-mash of everything and, for me, doesn’t really do the job with any of it. Cisco, rather than becoming a company that doesn’t really know what it’s about, has made the decision to return to what they know best.

OK, so it makes sense, but it’s a real shame their Flip division is being shut down rather than sold off. Maybe nobody wanted to buy it, but I know a fair few Flip fans (try saying that ten times quickly) will lament the passing of their favourite video camera.

Having said that, there are alternatives, like the Sanyo Xacti CG20 which shoots in full HD, is comparable in price to a Flip, and gets favourable reviews. And I have no doubt there will be other manufacturers who will come up with equally clever ideas for the next generation of pocket video cameras.

What do you think about this? Sad to see Flip go? Does it make sense for Cisco to refocus on their core business? Got something else you want to say? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. Why do they do this? How many big Software and Tech giants buy out the so called little guys only to shelv them in a few years time.

    It happens over and over again. What is it? Is it pride? Do they just wan to squash so call competition? Are they trying to venture into new direction but find out latter it has nothing to do with their core business. Seems daft to me.

    Why not rather put in some capitol investment. if it works out, great, if not, pull out your investment and move on to the next venture.

    Crazy stuff.

    • I reckon some visionary leader sees an up and coming company and thinks, “We could make a tonne of money if we bought that”… presumably more money than if they just go for investing.

      But then it looks like reality has taken hold and Cisco have realised they don’t actually want to be a consumer electronics company.

      It sounds like rash decision making to me, and then being unable to re-sell the company afterwards.

  2. Scuppered, I was really planning to get one of them in the next year or so…

    I completely agree with you Rob; why why why do companies buy products to shelve them, it not like the web where the product is shelved, but the ideas taken on elsewhere. It must be really upsetting for the original owners who thought that being part of Cisco would really benefit Flip.

    • We (Dawn and I) bought one as a joint Christmas present te year before last, and it’s a great little thing. Sad to see the company go.

  3. BudgieUK says:

    It is indeed sad to see this fail. They were real innovators in the mobile video camera market, but I assume that the bottom has fallen out of the market as it’s effectively being squeezed between good quality (HD) cameras on smart phones (iPhone4) and the higher end SLR . I suspect they had no where to go with the range except compete on price!

    • Good points there – the convergence of other devices like smartphones and DSLRs is making dedicated camcorders seem more and more pointless. The only thing that I could have seen as a new innovation might have been a 3D Flip, but eventually that capability will spread to other devices too.

  4. I was frustrated by this too. I can see the sense in Cisco focusing on their core business but it begs the question “What on earth were they doing buying Flip in the first place?” If I was a shareholder, I’d be mighty unhappy that Cisco spent a fortune on a company and then wound it down and had to deal with the bad publicity of sacking a load of people.

    Valid point about Smartphones, and I must admit my Blackberry is almost as good as my Flip.

    • You do have to wonder why a network equipment company wanted to buy a camcorder manufacturer, don’t you? I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at the board meeting where that decision was made… and the one when they realised they were going to have to let Flip go again.

  5. Jordan says:

    If you wonder why companies love to do such stuff, you might want to check out the book “Built to Last”. Although I know your main point is the loss of the beloved Flip :P

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