Did Cisco Flip too soon?

September 15, 2009

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?

12 comments

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…the Nano only shoots 640×480. Cisco has nothing to worry about. Until the Nano shoots 720p, it is no competitor.

Posted by George | Report as abusive

Of course…the NANO!! :)

Posted by Maya | Report as abusive

[...] business journalists have concluded that the iPod Nano, equipped with a video camera, foretells the destruction of Cisco’s (Pure Digital’s) Flip video cameras. Steve Jobs called out the Flip camera during his recent iPod product rollout, noting that video [...]

I like how this app is set up and what it does and enjoyed your review of it. Here’s another site with good app reviews, apptroll.com.

Nobody cares about HD anymore. It was a buzz word, but editing 720 and 1080p is too much of a pain in the butt. File sizes are too large, compression takes what feels like hours on new hardware. People want to share quickly via youtube, facebook, etc.Flip sadly is going to go away quietly. They have no hardware advantage and no competitive advantage. At this point they dont even have a distribution advantage.Night night Pure it was good knowing you. Cisco you overpaid by nearly 5x.

Posted by Andrew Machado | Report as abusive

Has the writer actually looked at the video the Nano produces? It’s pretty tiny when you look at it on a screen. If you try to blow it up to full screen, it looks like sh*t.This is the same as asking if cell phone cameras will make digital cameras obsolete. Maybe someday, but not anytime soon.Come on Anupreeta, this is pretty amateur. Do a little work before you write something that makes you look stupid.

Posted by Jojomogir | Report as abusive

I will not trade my Flip Video cam to anything else.I love it and I cannot imagine any other products working other than my flip. I’m perfectly happy with the separate music player and video camera. I don’t want anything integrated–when one breaks I still have the other.Cisco kid was a friend of mine…

Don’t think I will be giving up my Flip anytime soon. Have had great results with it. Own two (2) ipods, so don’t plan on buying another anytime sooooon.

Posted by Mr. C | Report as abusive

just like my leatherman will replace the entire toolbox? NOT.

Posted by The Dude | Report as abusive

Both devices will have their fans and particular uses. In a free marketplace, this is (at least temporarily) another example of the fact that one-size-fits-all is merely a beancounter’s dream, not necessarily the one held by consumers.The problem is that beancounters are too often the tail that wags the dog in a “free” marketplace. Companies buy up something they think will be hot and then discontinue it if it so much as wavers in the breeze of competition. The companies make out like bandits with their writeoffs; it’s the consumer who loses out when a functional product disappears just because a dog-ate-dog scenario didn’t play out as planned for the bigger dog’s shareholders.Personally, I’m hoping that both the nano and the flip continue to find buyers.

Posted by LizR | Report as abusive

Whoes to say Cisco doesn’t modify the flip either… wouldn’t it be a great thing to be able to wirelessly stream video from the FlipVid??I need to see video comparisons… I have a Flip Vid and love it.

Ofcourse the ipod nano. Two reasons mainly: 1) Someone looking to shoot high def videos is not going to use flip2) Flip consumers are typically the ones who will shoot videos on the fly and upload them on youtube. Why not buy something which offers music and video than just video. In these times of recession consumers are becoming smarter and looking for a one stop shop rather than having to carry 50 things in their pockets. And ofcourse the ipod looks good too!

Posted by Sam Chaware | Report as abusive

All Cisco has to do is to add an expansion slot Micro/SD to the Flip Video and that would blow away ipod nano since Apple purposely limit their devices to quickly become obsolete by not offering any memory expansion. Guess why people keep buying new iphones and ipods…to get more memory. This would give smart consumers an incentive to buy the Flip and keep expanding their investment into the future. Memory expansion is Apple’s worst enemy.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive