Did Cisco Flip too soon?
I’m in Silicon Valley this week meeting technology bankers and venture capitalists. Among the deal chatter, this is a question that came up more than once: Does Cisco feel a little silly for buying Flip camcorder maker Pure Digital, now that Apple has launched its popular iPod music players with built-in video?
The networking giant has long been trying to expand in the consumer gadgets market, and six months ago, it paid $590 million to acquire the San Francisco-based maker of pocket-sized digital camcorders. These sell for between $149.99 and $199.99.
Last week, Apple unveiled a new iPod Nano with built-in video. The 8GB version that can shoot up to two hours of video costs $149, and the next version costs $179.
Cisco’s plan was to use its operational scale and marketing to bring Flip to a much wider market. Given how much people like to post home-made videos on YouTube and other channels, it sounded like a smart idea.
But now Apple is giving Cisco a run for its money. Some people say the Flip shoots better video than the Nano, but generally speaking — which device would you rather choose, given that both are similarly priced? A hip little music player that also lets you shoot baby Morgan’s first steps (not to mention plays radio and has a pedometer), or a Cisco-owned digital video recorder?