×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Cisco Ditches Flip and $590 Million

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the but-they're-cool-little-devices dept.

Businesses 121

darthcamaro writes "Remember the Flip? When Pure Digital Technology first came out with the device it was one of the hottest gadgets, providing users with an ultra-portable camcorder. Then Cisco came along and bought the Flip for $590 million in 2009. Now less than two years later, Cisco is throwing the money, 550 employees and the Flip out the door." Wired has an analysis of why Flip floundered. I hope this means I can find a AA-powered Flip UltraHD for $50 in a clearance bin.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

121 comments

Can I be the first to say... (1, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 3 years ago | (#35801124)

...that the Flip was a flop?

Re:Can I be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801282)

Reminds me of the time in 1996 when Tyco released a $100 black-and-white camcorder that didn't have a battery.

It flopped easily.

Re:Can I be the first to say... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801308)

No, because it's already in the headline of the Wired article.

Well... Cisco flip'ped (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801592)

Well, Cisco flipped Flip the birdy...

Re:Can I be the first to say... (5, Interesting)

lostchicken (226656) | about 3 years ago | (#35802086)

The brilliance of this is that even if the Flip itself flops, Cisco still wins in the long run. As long as the Flip and the insane marketing hype surrounding it increased the popularity of HD video sharing on the web, people are going to need more routers in the network itself. I wonder who the ISPs and YouTubes of the world will be going to then...

Cisco never needed to sell the Flip as a physical product, they just needed to sell the idea of shooting LOTS of video and sharing it across the web. It seems like they've succeeded.

Re:Can I be the first to say... (3, Insightful)

itzdandy (183397) | about 3 years ago | (#35802578)

1/2 Billion is a LOT of router and switch sales to make up.

Re:Can I be the first to say... (1)

evildarkdeathclicheo (978593) | about 3 years ago | (#35802764)

It's about 1000 core routers. Granted, that's a lot, certainly more then Google adds in a year or two (they use Juniper anyway), but it's not a LOT or even a hard number to imagine. I'm not sure what Cisco's margins are though, so while it's list price for a thousand core routers, I'm sure they'll have to sell several tens of thousands to make up the half billion they blew. -W

Have you seen the price of Cisco products? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35804842)

1/2 Billion is a LOT of router and switch sales to make up.

Apparently, you haven't seen the price of Cisco products lately. ;-)

Re:Can I be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35806164)

1/2 Billion is a LOT of router and switch sales to make up.

Ever seen a Cisco price list?

Re:Can I be the first to say... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 3 years ago | (#35807000)

I don't think they threw away the entire 590 mill here.

For example, they might have obtained some valuable patent assets.

Re:Can I be the first to say... (1)

itzdandy (183397) | about 3 years ago | (#35807408)

from my googling, there really wasnt anything at all. The flip was not unique and had no unique technology in it. it was a standard camera turned sideways with a stylized case. Canon and Nikon had similar features at the time in a very similar form factor except that they had a much lower frame rate on the video.

Re:Can I be the first to say... (3, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 3 years ago | (#35803626)

Cisco still wins in the long run. As long as the Flip and the insane marketing hype surrounding it increased the popularity of HD video sharing on the web

Why does Cisco buying them have anything to do with that? The product was a huge hit before they bought it. Cisco owning it didn't add anything.

Re:Can I be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35803774)

You just described their corporate strategy for the past few years, hence their entry into all these "market adjacencies", like videoconferencing, flip, etc. The more bandwidth people use, the more they make money. Apparently investors are too short-sighted to see it.

Re:Can I be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35805970)

Uhhhh, and how was Flip not doing this on its own? I don't get what benefit Cisco specifically gets aside from the side benefit mentioned above which they would get anyway without owning Flip.

Re:Can I be the first to say... (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 3 years ago | (#35807568)

Most likely they will go to Juniper, Foundry Networks and them (the ones specializing in ISP-size network gear) or HP and Netgear for their datacenters (Google supposedly builds their own switches but why spend $5,000 on a gigabit switch if $1,500 will do). Cisco is imho overpriced, has major licensing issues and doesn't deliver on their promises of either product or support but still tries to sell you their whole product line for each problem. Cisco is the Microsoft of network equipment - all the bigwigs have heard of it and want it because they believe the sales people, all the techies know the sales people are lying and that there are better alternatives out there.

Yet again another product that I never knew about. (3, Insightful)

wubboy (96276) | about 3 years ago | (#35801192)

I cannot be the only person here who thinks maybe that the company problem is that I was never aware of them?

Re:Yet again another product that I never knew abo (2)

larry bagina (561269) | about 3 years ago | (#35801242)

Probably. Unless you were planning on buying a few thousand of them a month. Many people were aware of them (as the were quite popular in their heyday). But if smart phones and digital cameras can also take movies that are just as good, why buy a dedicated, mediocre, video camera?

It was plastered all over public transportation.. (1)

intellitech (1912116) | about 3 years ago | (#35801294)

In Chicago, they had a really cheesy advertising campaign that had adverts plastered all over CTA trains and stations for at least 6 months, probably a year. They should have taken all that advertising money and pooled it into some good interaction designers for an interface reboot. Besides, if it can't connect to the web, who cares about it. I remember seeing the adverts and predicting a massive failure, but I can't say I'm glad to see $600,000,000 wasted.

Target demographic? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 3 years ago | (#35801602)

In Chicago, they had a really cheesy advertising campaign that had adverts plastered all over CTA trains and stations ...

So the target demographic for the product was riders of public transit?

Re:Target demographic? (1)

cduffy (652) | about 3 years ago | (#35802198)

It's a cheap camera, not a high-end one.

That said -- I see a lot of people in suits on the train from Lakeway into downtown Austin around the 9am and 5pm runs. Maybe you should rethink that whole public transit stigma thing.

Re:Target demographic? (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 3 years ago | (#35802690)

The less I made, the better I dressed. Actually, I guess it was more like a bell curve if you count the McD's job. But, when I was making $8.11/hr way back in the day, I wore fancy silk ties and a silver tie clip and rarely had $20 in my pocket the day before payday.

Re:Target demographic? (1)

cduffy (652) | about 3 years ago | (#35803250)

Fair 'nuff. Given as Lakeway isn't exactly a cheap place to live (median household income $86K), I doubt that's the mechanic at work here.

Re:Target demographic? (1)

cduffy (652) | about 3 years ago | (#35804322)

Fair 'nuff. Given as Lakeway isn't exactly a cheap place to live (median household income $86K), I doubt that's the mechanic at work here.

Ugh -- I had "that stop beyond the furthest I ever go" wrong; it's Lakeline, not Lakeway. Still not the slums by any means, but not at all the same demographic.

Re:Target demographic? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about 3 years ago | (#35803372)

Did you see the video of Anderson Cooper being attacked in Egypt? He's carrying a Flip camera in his hand. I think much of the grainy video you saw from that time was from Flip cameras. They are very discrete - much more so than any other sort of HD camera - and don't require you to have your smart phone with all your contacts, notes, personal information, etc., out in your hand where it can be grabbed by a passer by.

Re:Target demographic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35803590)

So the target demographic for the product was riders of public transit?

Maybe where you live only the poor take public transportation, but not every city is saddled with a crappy system.

Re:It was plastered all over public transportation (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 3 years ago | (#35802170)

Still not as braindead as umi.

A device that could be replaced by skype and a 50 webcam (ok, so that's not as premium, but it is good enogh).

Now the stupid part, if you choose our product, you'll get to pay $25/month for access to less people.

This means, to talk to a relative or a friend, you are looking at $50/month, and these are people that already have internet (and therefor presumably compters). I have seen some real computer illiterates figure out skype, so I don't think they even have ease of use going for them.

If they had focussed on compatibility it may have made sense, selling it as skype your while living room or get on the elite high definition umi network (for free), but charging (a lot at 25/month) for pretty much what everyone already had access to for free (skype) is pretty much the most bone-headed business plan I can imagine.

The flips were at least cheap enough to use as semi-disposable cameras at the low end.

Re:It was plastered all over public transportation (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 3 years ago | (#35804996)

Besides, if it can't connect to the web, who cares about it.

People who just want adequate quality home video of their kids, family, holidays, pets and so on, and don't intend to share it with the whole fucking world on bastard Facebook?

Re:Yet again another product that I never knew abo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801626)

"it was one of the hottest gadgets"

I think in this case it was you and not the product or the advertising. I bought one for myself and even gave them out as Christmas presents. I did a lot of research and was trying to find a super simple HD camera for grabbing shots. I couldn't find one as good so I grabbed a Flip and I've been thrilled with it and use it all the time. My brother in law is a professional photographer and the he uses the Flip I gave him constantly as the family camera even though he has far better cameras. The point is they are fast to use and take great video. I'll pick up several while they are in stores and pack them away for the future. It's sad that such a great product gets dropped.

Re:Yet again another product that I never knew abo (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 3 years ago | (#35805748)

The point is they are fast to use and take great video. I'll pick up several while they are in stores and pack them away for the future. It's sad that such a great product gets dropped.

What you describe is exactly why we bought them for ourselves as well.

Its also exactly why ours haven't been used since the iPhone 4's video camera came out. Sure, the phone is missing image stabilization (btw, WTF Apple) and the quality isn't quite as good, but those facts are well-mitigated by the fact that I always have it with me... exactly the same thought process used to justify the Flip vs. an HD-capable-SLR.

Anyone who could make the leap from complex->Flip will, or has, made exactly the same leap from Flip to celphone, with a few exceptions (we still use a Flip for recording corporate video-blog footage, for example).

Re:Yet again another product that I never knew abo (5, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | about 3 years ago | (#35801680)

They started as Pure Digital [slashdot.org], a company that made a solid-state battery-operated "disposable" camera (20 minutes, 128 MB flash), and camcorder, both of which were eventually hacked. The business model was that you'd pay CVS $20-30 for the camera, fill it with 20 minutes of video, and return it for "processing", where CVS would use a device with a proprietary USB connector and software that knew what key to use to handshake to the device to extract the video, burn it to CD for you, wipe the camera, and put it back on the shelf. (much like a "disposable" film camera.)

The company was understandably miffed about having people going into their local drugstore and buying what would have been a $50-100 gadget for $30. Pretty neat devices. Very lightweight, and rugged as hell. At $30, perfect for strapping onto balloons, kites, and model rockets.

Miffed [i-hacked.com] as they were about the disruption of the business model, they actually didn't get overly litigious about it. They didn't have much of a legal leg to stand on, so they basically asked really really nicely for people to stop, while updating their single-use devices to be a little harder to hack. (It took the community a couple of years to crack the newer firmware, and by that time, the devices, even at $30, were obsolescent.)

The "reusable video camcorder that offers 2-3 times the quality, a zoom lens, and 30 minutes of storage" version of the single-use device became the series known as the Flip. The Flip was an unencumbered version of the grocery store disposable units, featuring more storage and higher resolution, and even at retail prices, if you needed something rugged, lightweight, cheap to power, and still cheap enough that it's not the end of the world if the rocket gets stuck in a tree or your RC aircraft faceplants into the dirt, it was still pretty good value for the money.

Business plan waiting to FAIL (2)

npsimons (32752) | about 3 years ago | (#35802250)

The business model was that you'd pay CVS $20-30 for the camera, fill it with 20 minutes of video, and return it for "processing", where CVS would use a device with a proprietary USB connector and software that knew what key to use to handshake to the device to extract the video, burn it to CD for you, wipe the camera, and put it back on the shelf. (much like a "disposable" film camera.)

Okay, to me this just sounds like a business plan waiting to fail. If the marketing dept (or whatever dept that comes up with these ideas) should listen to their engineers only once, it would be to present the business plan to the engineers and ask "now, what would you do as a consumer?" If the engineers are worth anything, they will point out holes (like "not return it and just download the data myself") before the marketeers go off on a quixotic quest to try to dupe people out of their money. I mean, honestly, did they actually think people *liked* having to take their cameras/film back to the store just to get the photos? And pay for the "privilege"? There's two reasons one hour photos are virtually non-existent anymore, and they're called USB and digital cameras.

The company was understandably miffed about having people going into their local drugstore and buying what would have been a $50-100 gadget for $30.

No, that's not understandable; sounds like a just another bunch of MBA types trying to get rich quick by holding people's data ransom.

Re:Business plan waiting to FAIL (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 3 years ago | (#35803192)

There's two reasons one hour photos are virtually non-existent anymore...

What are you talking about? Every CVS, Walgreens, Kinkos, Walmart, etc., has photo printing. You take in a memory card rather than film, but it's the same business model and for the same reason: most people don't find it worth the bother and expense to have print making capability (whether that be a darkroom or a photo printer) at home.

Re:Business plan waiting to FAIL (1)

npsimons (32752) | about 3 years ago | (#35807642)

What are you talking about? Every CVS, Walgreens, Kinkos, Walmart, etc., has photo printing. You take in a memory card rather than film, but it's the same business model and for the same reason: most people don't find it worth the bother and expense to have print making capability (whether that be a darkroom or a photo printer) at home.

That's not quite the same; for one, how many digital printing centers require staff? Heck, I've seen some where you can pay directly at the terminal. For another, even counting the digital print stations, places to get photos printed have signficantly dropped. Most mom&pop photo places are gone. One last thing: people aren't required to go to one of these stations to print out or view photos, which the latter is what a good majority are satisfied with.

I still think Pure Digital's business plan was full of fail and just have to roll my eyes when they are surprised that people started hacking their devices.

Re:Business plan waiting to FAIL (4, Informative)

BillX (307153) | about 3 years ago | (#35803462)

It's worse than that [forumer.com]... the MBAs must have paid the engineers peanuts and lit a blowtorch under their asses to ship it, because the "security" on these was laughable (the one thing they had going for them was a Funny Plug(tm) that wouldn't fit a standard USB cable); it took several revisions before the software security measures presented so much as a speed bump. How do I hack thee? Let me recount thy ways...

1) The camcorders used a 128 BYTE(!) challenge/response system to unlock the device over USB. But the first-gen units used the SAME keypair for every device! So extract the key from one, unlock them all.

2) The key could be extracted by desoldering and reading the Flash chip, or... just asking the device nicely! The challenge key and expected response were stored consecutively in memory; you would request the challenge key in 4-byte(?) chunks, and after the 32nd chunk, respond with 32 chunks of response key. But if you instead just kept requesting chunks after the 32nd, it would GIVE you the response key.

3) Eventually they fixed this. But there was still a backdoor / "default" key, leading to the very popular "battery drop" method of unlocking cams. The response key and other housekeeping data were stored in an NVRAM area (actually IIRC just a file called nvram.dat) - if the camera ever failed to boot, it assumed it was a crash due to corrupted NVRAM and replaced it with a known default copy. Letting the batteries drop out about a second after hitting the power switch would replace the response key with a "key" consisting of the imager manufacturer's name spelled backward and then forward.

Eventually (being IIRC a couple *years*) they fixed all of these. You could still do it by shorting pins on the Flash or erasing part of it via external hardware, but the easy point-and-click software hacks were shored up. There was still debate as to whether the keys were algorithmically related to one another or one-time-pad random. Until...

4) Somebody discovered PD left details (possibly code) of the keygen algorithm on their anonymous FTP server! It was pulled before I got a chance to see it ;-) but it was enough information that somebody wrote a tool to bruteforce a master key of some sort, which took a few computers about a week or 2. With the master key found, hackers just updated the GUI software to generate proper response keys, prompting PD to release the "please grant us a Mulligan" letter linked by the GP.

Re:Business plan waiting to FAIL (1)

Rakishi (759894) | about 3 years ago | (#35804000)

And this is why the MBAs are raking it in and you're not. After all, their scheme worked well enough for the company to survive for many years and eventually led to a $500 million sale.

Re:Yet again another product that I never knew abo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35802012)

You've probably heard of them at some point. (Maybe because I'm a bit of a camera geek I'm more aware.) Early this decade they first came on /.'s [slashdot.org] radar with the Dakota disposable digital camera. [wikipedia.org] A $10 ($20 if you wanted a preview LCD) camera that had to be returned to the store for processing (for additional cost.)

Shortly after they came out with a video [camcorderinfo.com] version for $30 + processing. Both sound silly today, but back then digital cameras and camcorders were still fairly pricey. Both were quickly hacked and put to use in various projects ... to spare the innocent from further slashdotting, you can go googling for people who sent these into the upper atmosphere.

I'm a little bummed to see Flip getting dumped, (though I was surprised when I saw the Cisco logo when I bought mine.) Hope someone picks it up; it's a nice no-frills camera. Press the big red button to start, press again to stop, operation is simpler than even most point & shoot cameras ... I just handed my technonoob mom mine this morning when I heard the nieces were coming over, so I'll truly find out just how simple it is.

Re:Yet again another product that I never knew abo (2)

brit74 (831798) | about 3 years ago | (#35802264)

Maybe you need to look around a little more. For example, look at the camcorder section of Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/photo/172421). Flip currently has the #2 best selling camcorder at Amazon, plus they hold another 6 spots in the top 20.

It's not just the fact that smart phones did it (4, Insightful)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 3 years ago | (#35801230)

The article asserts that smart phones recorded just as well, making the Flip redundant. I go a step further and postulate that smartphones are frankly more convenient. I don't always grab my camcorder when I'm heading out the door just in case I see something awesome and film worthy on my way to work. But I absolutely have to have my cell phone. I do not leave home without it. And hey, if I happen to need to capture a few minutes of video on my phone, I have a 16 gig SSID chip in it AND I can just email the darn thing to myself and have it posted on YouTube or Twitter within ten minutes because of my data plan (something that even a wi-fi connected Flip phone couldn't do most places.)

Isn't this just the Convergence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801806)

It will happen eventually, but sooner than we think.
In the meantime Apple and friends will get rich
selling millions of disposable devices to the eager masses.

Re:It's not just the fact that smart phones did it (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 3 years ago | (#35802562)

I keep my FlipHD in my computer bag anyway...

I figure I never know when I'll need a couple hours of HD footage.

Re:It's not just the fact that smart phones did it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35803444)

Plus, given your work with the Phoenix Foundation, you never know when you might need a few batteries, a video camera, and a small LED display to create a remote drone, or a listening device, or an electronic lockpick, or ...

Re:It's not just the fact that smart phones did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35802646)

Wow. What do we have here? Why, a postulation! And some genius insight that nobody could've thought of before, from Captain Obvious.

Problem Solved. (-1, Troll)

w0mprat (1317953) | about 3 years ago | (#35801250)

They can't handle a division that does too well and is too profitable, even in the face of competition (HD recording smartphones). They couldn't set it up to fail, so they have to disband a sucessful department. They will instead be re-focusing on more managable mediocore products.

Re:Problem Solved. (1)

hxnwix (652290) | about 3 years ago | (#35802984)

Intriguing.... Are revenue/expense numbers for the flip dept publicly available?

Chambers is right that flip meshed with Cisco's core business (of charging eye-popping markup).

Re:Problem Solved. (1)

hxnwix (652290) | about 3 years ago | (#35803086)

correction:

Chambers is right that flip *never* meshed with Cisco's core business (of charging eye-popping markup).

They actually were pretty good (1)

bobjr94 (1120555) | about 3 years ago | (#35801256)

Ive seen videos shot from newer flips in low lighting that cell phone cameras and cheap flip knock off's just show as black. I never had one mainly because of no zoom, for kids messing around in the room and doing skateboarding tricks they were great. They should have figured that it would only take a few months for the market to be flooded with lower cost clones.

I remember when the Flip was hot (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#35801264)

But I bought a Kodak Zi-6, which I'm still using. External memory and runs on two AA batteries. Flip was all self contained and not all that interesting, considering the limitations.

Re:I remember when the Flip was hot (1)

jjbenz (581536) | about 3 years ago | (#35803084)

agreed, i bought a Zi-6 for a trip to NYC and it worked great. I didn't like the no removable storage and lack of easy battery replacement in the flip.

No great mystery (2)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | about 3 years ago | (#35801274)

I was in the market for a small portable video camera when we had a baby on the way and was looking at the Flip. Then the iPhone 4 came out with HD recording and I got that instead and I'm glad I did, the video and photo's I shot with it are great for my purposes and it's always there in my pocket. They released a single purpose device just when multi-purpose ones were catching up on their area of expertise. Though break.

Why don't digital cameras/DSLRs work as webcams? (2)

moreati (119629) | about 3 years ago | (#35801394)

This is (slightly) offtopic, but I'll take the hit. It seems strange to me that digital still cameras and DSLR cameras don't offer webcam functions, at least I haven't found any that do. Thy typical have a much better sensor, lens and optical zoom than any dedicated webcam; can record high resolution video and connect as a USB device. So why is a USB webcam mode not incorporated?

Re:Why don't digital cameras/DSLRs work as webcams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801444)

Anything with a 1394 will do a live video feed, and not that crappy mpeg compressed shit they fed over USB1.1.

Re:Why don't digital cameras/DSLRs work as webcams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801930)

Anything with a 1394 will do a live video feed.

That's good advice, but it's important to note that it has to be capable of SD DV over 1394. HDV over 1394 wont cut it for a webcam, because it trails by 15 or more frames in order to GOP compression. (I've even seen some SD over firewire with a noticeable latency). If it can switch between modes (I would hope that most can) it should be fine.

In any case, DV over 1394 is losing big to solid state AVC camcorders these days. In that case, the only option is one of the other outputs (coax, s-video, composite, component, etc.) which are often live (and uncompressed).

Re:Why don't digital cameras/DSLRs work as webcams (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about 3 years ago | (#35801460)

Same here...

I got both a 10mp Still and full HD Camcorder, yet for a webcam I'm stuck with a grainy 1.3mp webcam.

Re:Why don't digital cameras/DSLRs work as webcams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801722)

So why is a USB webcam mode not incorporated?

Same reason they don't have a bajillion other software features that they could easily incorporate for little or no programming cost: Marketing. The Marketing suits either didn't bother with the cost benefit analysis of your particular pet feature (a USB webcam mode), or they did and found that it wasn't worth the $x to develop, document, and support it. And of course they are too afraid to adopt an open source model.

If your camera or DSLR supports an open source firmware such as Magic Lantern or CHDK, then one may be able to add the feature themselves.

In any case, if your camera/DSLR has component video out (many do), then all you need is a $30 USB video capture device and you're in webcam business (though you may or may not have or notice latency issues).

Re:Why don't digital cameras/DSLRs work as webcams (1)

youngone (975102) | about 3 years ago | (#35802202)

I've got a Canon EOS 550d DSLR camera, and I'm pretty sure it has got a web cam sort of function in the software somewhere.

Re:Why don't digital cameras/DSLRs work as webcams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35803376)

My Canon 7D has got HDMI out. They also provide software so you can view video, and control the camera remotely, via USB. Can't remember if it has webcam mode or not.

But whats the point...I mean, why? There may be some legitimate reasons to have the DSLR function as a webcam but they're edge cases. Webcams tend to be for person to person video conferencing where the small webcam form is most important over quality. For those wanting to high quality video you can capture through HDMI on a DSLR and then do what you want with the stream.

Re:Why don't digital cameras/DSLRs work as webcams (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 3 years ago | (#35803558)

So why is a USB webcam mode not incorporated?

Because that costs money and doesn't make any sense. In the $100-$300 P&S market, adding cost to your device to compete against $20 webcams puts you a competitive disadvantage in seriously cutthroat segment of the market. In the $300-600 P&S/Compact market, you could probably put such a mode in and get away with it... but who is going to buy it? That's the entry level for the serious photographer and videographer. Above that, in the compact/SLR range - you're going to be even worse shape as going to the effort to add webcam functionality to semi-pro cameras is going to be regarded as taking away effort from improving the photography and videography functionality.

Throwing $590e6 out the door? (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 years ago | (#35801410)

It's possible Flip was profitable for some or all of that 2 years, so not all the $590e6 was a loss.

I like how the Wired article calls its appearance "retro." I blame it on the click-wheel-inspired design. Man I hate the clickwheel, and always did. It's still polluting the design of non-Apple mp3 players to this day. Please, please give us real clickable buttons, far enough apart to operate through a jacket pocket.

Re:Throwing $590e6 out the door? (2)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 3 years ago | (#35801844)

I like real clickable buttons for many things, but for things like volume or scanning through a long list, the click wheel is really usable..

plus, at least my 5G iPod still has buttons for next/previous below the edges of the click wheel.

This is what companies do (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#35801416)

Cisco bought TGV which made the best TCP stack for Win 3.x and which was making a fast stack for 95, then turned them into a cable modem lab... hmm, OK.

Re:This is what companies do (5, Insightful)

Ruke (857276) | about 3 years ago | (#35801618)

Cisco doesn't need to sell Flips in order for the purchase to be profitable. It's highly probably that they purchased Pure Digital in order to strengthen their patent portfolio. If the iPhone or Android devices make use of some inane portable-video technology that Pure Digital patented in designing the flip, it's possible for Cisco to make back their money in licensing agreements with other hardware manufacturers.

Re:This is what companies do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35803974)

it's possible for Cisco to make back their money in licensing agreements with other hardware manufacturers.

Cisco doesn't make back any money on patents. They only use them to trade with other patent holders, to avoid paying them licensing fees.

Market shift and Cisco incompetence... (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#35801448)

Flip's chances certainly weren't helped by the fact that, on the one hand, point and shoots with substantially more competent optics have been creeping down in price and creeping up in video capability, and on the other, smartphones(while substantially more expensive) are increasingly seen as a default, and so offer almost as good video recording for "free".

However, it really doesn't help that Cisco did surprisingly little with the company after they acquired it, and some of what they did do was questionable. The 'Slide' model was rather pitiful, their experiments in replacing the simple tried and true physical buttons with (lousy) touchscreens were failures, and they stuck with a price tag that was always hovering dangerously close to more capable devices. Other than a few incremental spec bumps there was almost no development of the product line for two years.

Re:Market shift and Cisco incompetence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35802292)

Just to be slightly more specific: The Flip, and its imitators, were and are killer devices for situations where you need something fairly rugged and modestly expendable. Point and shoots have better optics; but tightly packed glass and moving parts makes dropping them a bad plan. Smartphones are reasonably capable video shooters; but if yours takes a bath you'll soon learn that they only cost $99 with a contract, and that replacements are more like $500...

And yet, Flip/Cisco never bothered to come up with an actually ruggedized spin(slightly thicker housing, glue. o-rings to resist rain, puddles, maybe shallow underwater work). They wouldn't even have needed to rework the internals, just a slightly different case and a bump to the price tag.

And what about networking? This is Cisco, FFS, and they just managed to get a wifi-equipped prototype to the FCC before they shut the company down. Seriously? They couldn't see the potential of automated-to-the-intertubes sharing, not even enough to attempt a crass money-grab by bundling a linksys wireless router that supports some proprietary 'EZ-Flip' wireless autoconfig? C'mon.

It leaves me inclined to suspect that Cisco doesn't quite understand consumer electronics. They bought somebody who had a great concept; but then they didn't follow any of the possible paths to success: There was no serious attempt at integration between product lines(ie. no 'flip edition' spins of their routers). There was no real push into 'impulse buy' territory(in fact, some of the later model flips were actually rather more expensive, despite the falling cost of just about every component, because of dubiously sensible spec bumping); but there was(as we can see here) also no acceptance of the margins that one would expect if one continued to produce a commodity item without serious differentiation for a couple of years in the fast-paced world of consumer gear. Plenty of other outfits had what it took to produce similar items, and did. It makes me wonder if Cisco's management types just can't quite shake the impression that they get from their network gear, where very strong legacy effects mean that they can get away with charging a premium for spec bumping, when they go into other areas...

Here's how stupid corporate feudalism works (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 years ago | (#35803402)

A guy has an idea of what he can commit the resources he commands to. The company spends a shitload of money to do so. A new guy comes in or a superior decides it's time to assert dominance. They have to make their mark to show they are going to do something different. The easiest way is to cancel what the first guy did which has the advantage that it also robs them of a success. The actual idea or implementation is irrelevent.
That's the sort of bullshit we are training our MBAs to do - teaching them to act like barbarian feudal lords only without any of the sort of skills that were needed at any time in history to get to a position of responsibility (eg. getting rotated around bits of the company to find out what it does - not going directly from running a tiny nuclear research lab to a huge telecommunications company in one disasterous step). They get a prize instead of a job they can do. In a lot of cases they are destined to be victims of those that actually know what the company they run does and do not waste so much time on petty political games.

For the last time... (0)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 3 years ago | (#35801476)

Nobody wants video conferencing... Heck people don't even want to *speak* to each other. There is no mass market in it...EVER... Every company who tries fails...

And people are not stupid... if they want video conferencing they'll buy a $60 web cam and use skype or MSN for free...

The mass market will NOT accept hundreds of dollars on hardware and recurring fees to use a service that does not need to exist on top of that.

Who wants to pay monthly for the priv

windose eugenetics app, biblically feenominal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801510)

schedule all of you vaccines, surgical alterations, real sex 'religious' trainings, baal hearings, mammon transfers, precious stuff inventories, media unprovings, just everything, in one place, forever. a real killer app.

QVC had a super sale on Flips (1)

mozkill (58658) | about 3 years ago | (#35801552)

I was watching QVC this weekend and they were selling Flips (in a bundle with a at-home media streamer device) for a sale price of $150, down from $250 . Someone is trying to dump lots of product line.

Great camera for budding film makers (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801640)

Flips were durable as hell. I gave one to my 10 year son a one and over the years it has twice spent 1+ weeks in the yard in rain and snow and both times it started right up no problem. Not bad and absolutely perfect for a kid into making movies.

pointless (2, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 years ago | (#35801684)

My department got one of these as a "Free gift" from one of our vendors. I opened the box, had no idea what it was... it actually took me a good 10min to figure it out on the internet. Then I saw the price was $200 or so... My coworkers and I sat around staring at it wondering why on earth anyone would want one. It's NOT a camcorder, doesn't record video nearly as well, but costs about the same. It's not a smartphone... or even a PDA. The USB plug "Flipped" out giving the device its name... but it was part of the hardware. When you plugged it into the computer you had this giant device hanging off your USB port. If you had any sort of mass-produced workstation like we all had at work, it was nearly impossible to actually plug the stupid thing in because the plug wasn't flexible and our USB ports were about an 1/8" off our desks.

I'm not sure why CISCO bought them, I'm hoping for some codec or patent rights or something. Otherwise that product was a total failure.

Re:pointless (3, Funny)

es79 (2039900) | about 3 years ago | (#35802210)

I've been sitting here looking at my Flip for about 10 minutes trying to figure out what exactly took more than 30 seconds to figure out.

Re:pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35803006)

Seriously... I turned the thing on, handed it to my 8 year old kid and she was recording on her own within a couple minutes. Never had to explain a thing. Simplicity was one of the selling points of the device. I never had any interest in it myself but for a kid who wants to make youtube videos with their friends or just casual recording it is pretty close to ideal.

Re:pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35802774)

Flip was pushed hardcore in K12 education...it's slightly simpler to use, but lower quality and a more expensive product, so it was a perfect fit.

Re:pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35802878)

I opened the box, had no idea what it was... it actually took me a good 10min to figure it out on the internet.

Please tell us that's because you're working off of dial-up and there was a solar storm going on at the time.

If it took you ten minutes to figure out what it was, then technology and gadgets might not be your forte. I'm not even sure how you managed to make that post.

This was a bad idea at conception. (1)

upuv (1201447) | about 3 years ago | (#35801826)

I can't defend this product. I can't justify it's existence. I can't possible fathom the price of the company or the product.

Even MS kin had more going for it.

Better Products Available (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35801978)

I almost got my wife a Flip this past Christmas as a more convenient way to take videos of our 2yr old without having to haul around a full fledged camcorder. I ended up getting her the Kodak Playsport instead. It was less expensive (think I paid about $120), it is waterproof (major plus since little ones have a tendency to spill things), and the reviews were better. The wife loves it, and the 1080p videos are MUCH, MUCH better than what either of our phones can do (even on the highest setting). The only negative is sharing the videos. While they play just great on the device (connected to our TV over HDMI), most PCs struggle with the video due to the high resolution. I have convert the videos to lower resolution if we want to share them with family/friends.

Cisco bought Flip for their phones (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35802010)

does the camera in this phone [cisco.com] look familiar?

The flip camera is used in their unified IP phones. They didn't buy it to keep it going as standalone camera.

No connection to the 9k series camera (2)

beanpoppa (1305757) | about 3 years ago | (#35803262)

The camera on the 9000 series phones is nothing like a flip phone. It's simply a USB web cam, that plugs directly into the phone. It's not HD, and it doesn't have very good optics. They didn't need to spend $500mil for that.

louis vuitton outlet (0)

nancy110 (2011906) | about 3 years ago | (#35802444)

Louis Vuitton is a very popular product of Louis Vuitton Outlet in 2011. Louis Vuitton Louis Vuitton is a bestseller in our Louis Vuitton Outlet Store.If you buy Louis Vuitton,we sure that your confidence will be enhanced soon.And you can enjoy a low discount and free shipping.Please come and buy it as soon as possible. Louis Vuitton Outlet Online is publishing the most stylish Louis Vuitton now. Louis Vuitton are destined to be in style timeless for its color and shape. Its classic shape and elegant lines make Louis Vuitton worth its dear price. Louis Vuitton Online Store is very showy.We hope you can enjoy shopping at Louis Vuitton Online. http://www.louisvuittonoutletstoreonline.com/ [louisvuitt...online.com] http://www.lvlouisvuitton.org/ [lvlouisvuitton.org] http://www.buylouisvuittonoutlet.org/ [buylouisvu...outlet.org]

used to work there (1)

enigmatichmachine (214829) | about 3 years ago | (#35802446)

and this makes sense. When they were getting acquired they were dumping tons of cash into looking like the hot shit for cisco, but I think they all knew the concept would get eaten alive by convergence. The mood I felt was, lets sell this to Cisco before they catch on that this market is doomed.

Not surprising (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | about 3 years ago | (#35802570)

I've used one of these and I wasn't sure what to make of it. It's supposed to be a camcorder but it doesn't pick up audio very well unless the source is near the device. So then you think it would be good for video blogging on the go, but models don't have a screen to see if you're in frame. Some say smartphones did in the Flip, but when it first came out, cheap digital cameras were already able to do what the Flip did and more (and with better quality), in addition to being expandable with SD card memory. If it was cheaper, then maybe it would have succeeded...

Done in by point and shoot cameras (1)

erice (13380) | about 3 years ago | (#35803694)

Some say smartphones did in the Flip, but when it first came out, cheap digital cameras were already able to do what the Flip did and more (and with better quality), in addition to being expandable with SD card memory.

I'm not sure that is exactly true. My 2007 vintage P&S did have better optics, including optical zoom, but video was stored inefficiently and for limited duration as motion JPEG. That meant there was some advantage to using the Flip for longer but less demanding video. Pretty weak market position though, and it's totally gone now. Current P&S cameras record H.264

will the responsible person, cisco ceo, get hit? (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | about 3 years ago | (#35802648)

of course not.
the ceo will, after wasting 600 million or so of the shareholders money on a flashy product with no future, will get a bonus for shutting it down.
the shareholders put up with it, they deserve what they get.

Dammit (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 3 years ago | (#35802726)

Bugger, this is the first time I've backed an unsuccessful technology since I bought a DAT recorder in 1992. Still, it'll keep working for me. The Flip has surprisingly excellent picture quality, good storage time (I have the 16GB Mino model with 2 hours capacity) and is super easy to use and integrate with other things - laptop, AV system, etc. Sad to see it now considered a 'flop'.

Niche? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35802744)

Can't be the only person that's bummed out by this can I? I have six of the second generation flip cameras that I use to record bands I play with. I was waiting to upgrade those cameras to the wifi version that hit the FCC in january, but now I guess I'm gonna snap up the current version on amazon.

FAQ (2)

PCM2 (4486) | about 3 years ago | (#35802766)

From Cisco's FAQ [cisco.com] about the acquisition:

Q. How will Pure Digital’s products be sold and serviced?
A:
For the time being, Pure Digital will continue to sell their product as they do today, on the web, via retail stores and through on-line retailers. Together Cisco and Pure Digital will work to expand sales opportunities for these exciting products.

Q. How will Cisco and Pure Digital customers be affected by the acquisition?
A:
Cisco often acquires companies that can accelerate the development of a product, technology or platform. With Pure Digital, Cisco acquires consumer-friendly video products and technology, as well as a brand with mass-market appeal. Pure Digital customers will continue to receive the same great products and technology they are accustomed to receiving and will experience no negative impact in terms of features or service.

So much for truth in marketing.

Foundered, not floundered (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35802872)

http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/flounder.html

Cisco is missing on their switches and routers (1)

lanner (107308) | about 3 years ago | (#35803042)

I've not seen anyone here talking about Cisco's CORE products: Switches and routers.

Right now, Cisco is seriously missing on 10G networking. Their products suck ass compared with Juniper and Arista. Others have really great stuff out there too right now (Brocade, Extreme, Force 10).

They totally bailed out of Infiniband because their products were poop. It's a small market, but we use it here because of HPC.

The simple fact is that shortly after when Cisco shipped their 3750-E switches Juniper shipped their EX 4200 series switches. Juniper was: cheaper, had redundant power supplies, bigger uplink bandwidth, and mops cisco all over on features AND reliability.

Cisco had to come out with the 3750X series, which is a nice upgrade with a price drop, but still isn't as good because of the software.

Also, their ASA firewalls really suck. We've got a bunch of their big 5580-40s here, which were the biggest thing they had at the time. They crash often, management ain't that great, and cost-wise is like hitting yourself in the head with a gold hammer.

Cisco is in serious serious trouble. Stupid acquisitions are the least of their problems.

Capitalism at work. (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#35803110)

Big corporation buys innovative, useful device, fucks it up. Something that could develop into something great, gets bogged down in development in corporate machine.

capitalism doesnt solve any issues of organization size. it just rationalizes them.

I just bought an ultra HD for my step-daughter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35803290)

and I don't regret it a bit. Pretty close to a perfect camera for a 13 year old. It's customized with her own design so she thinks it is the coolest thing in the world. Video quality is excellent and gets scaled down for youtube anyway.

    As a geek I'm not impressed by it but I wasn't the target market. Cisco screwed up with their newer slide model. Added complexity without any real features.

    Should be a few years before the kid outgrows this camera and I need to get her something more advanced. Would have been nice to get it at a bargain price like most will now but I still think it was worth the cost.

Those were the days.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35803334)

Just bought one this morning. Damn, I knew I should have gone with the buggy whip instead!

good riddance (3, Insightful)

spectro (80839) | about 3 years ago | (#35803560)

TFA missed a very important reason: no SD expansion slot.

Every single time I saw them on a store first thing I did was check if there was a way to expand memory with SD card. Nope?... well, ain't buying it then.

The reason the Flip failed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35806100)

I got one for my wife and it had the worst USB interface EVER. The weight of the camera would pull it out of the port, and it was just a royal PITA to use.

DIE, mf, die!

Ridiculously Simple Answer (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | about 3 years ago | (#35806468)

The device lacked basic camcorder features - like an optical zoom. It didn't do anything that my camera phone can do - so why would I buy it? In the meantime, I have shelled out money for a smartphone, a decent near-SLR still camera, and an HD Camcorder with a good optical zoom, image stabilization,etc. There is no place in my closet for a Flip.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...