RIP Flip

flipYou might say the Devil made them do it.

Or you could call it a sign of the times in our ever-changing, technology-hungry world where consumers are demanding more out of every gadget they buy.

That said, slumping sales could be to blame.

Either way you look at it, Cisco Systems has decided to pull the plug on its Flip Video Camera division and along with it, axed some 500+ employees in the process.

But if you really sit – or stand, your choice – and think about it, it’s pretty amazing that the Flip Video division even lasted this long.

One factor could be that smartphones can shoot some pretty darn good video these days. No, it won’t be broadcast quality but then again, Flip’s quality wasn’t all that amazing to begin with. Acceptable, but definitely not astounding. Even the latest generation iPod touch is shooting HD video. So when everybody’s already carrying a video camera with them, Flip was unwanted or unneeded.

Another thing that probably killed Flip was that the memory was not expandable. You were limited to 1 or 2 hours of video depending on the kind of Flip model you had (standard or HD). When there are comparably priced HD video cameras available that can use up to 32GB SDHC cards and shoot higher quality video, it’s easy to see where consumers would want to spend their money. Not only do those cameras have the advantage of memory expansion, they also have features such as optical zoom, a still camera option, etc.

As an owner of a Flip Video camera, allow me to add my opinion of the product.

For what it was, the Flip did it’s job amazingly well. The rechargeable battery always lasted for the duration of time were shooting which, for the most part, was no longer than a few minutes at a time. And it was so easy to use that even Anthony knew how to take short clips of the cats doing stupid things around the house.

The FlipShare software is about as consumer-friendly as you can get. You flip out the built-in USB dongle, pop it your computer’s drive and viola, your clips are transferred. The software also offers a variety of sharing options including all of the popular social sites, through e-mail, as a greeting card, etc. Easy for anybody to use.

The one thing that I can’t stand about the Flip (although I still own it) is the digital [edited from optical – Dave] zoom which, on any camera, is pretty bad anyhow. I always tried to get as close to the subject matter whenever I used my Flip Video because zooming in, although you could still see things, produced incredibly degraded images.

Here’s a sample Flip clip take at Hoover Dam last year (choose 480p for better quality):

The Flip came through in a pinch until I was able to get something better which I did eventually do. I now have a Sanyo Xacti that has tons more features and was just a little more than that Flip.

Here’s a sample from that camera (choose 720p HD for better quality):

Big difference, no?

So my dear Flip, you did serve your purpose when I needed you. Without you, I would have never captured a few of those few memorable moments – school programs and awards ceremonies – from Anthony’s kindergarten year. You now join the ranks of consumer products once thought would change the world, like the CueCat, Zip drives, and AM stereo.

Thanks for the memories (literally), Flip Video.

(And you older folks will understand why I posted that picture…)