Smartphones Helped To Kill The Flip Camera

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The super-simple Flip camera is dead. The company that produces it has decided to discontinue production. The Flip cam was a success, and spawned plenty of imitators. But Cisco says it's shutting down the unit because it wants to save money in its lagging consumer products division.


The Flip video recorder is so yesterday. It was introduced four years ago and became an instant hit. It was cheap and easy to use and made it simple to upload video on the Internet. The networking giant Cisco Systems bought the company making the Flip, but newer technologies has taken over the Flip, flipped right over it. And yesterday, Cisco announced it is shutting down the division that makes the device.

Peter Jon Shuler from member station KQED reports.

PETER JON SHULER: Even if the Flip was at its zenith, the revolution was already underway.

Mr. LANCE ULANOFF (Editor-in-Chief, The Flip star certainly burned brightly, but it was more like flash paper.

SHULER: Lance Ulanoff is editor-in-chief of He says the Flip was undone by still cameras and video cameras becoming standard equipment on smartphones.

Mr. ULANOFF: The smartphones that we carry today can do many things, including capture high-definition, high-quality video. So suddenly, why would you want to carry around a device that only does one thing when you can carry around one that will do many?

SHULER: Ulanoff says Cisco made one big mistake with the Flip. While iPhones, Androids and BlackBerries were constantly improving, the Flip didn't change much from its original design. In particular, as consumers got used to taking video on the go and uploading it directly to the Web, Cisco never introduced a corresponding wireless capability on the Flip.

For NPR News, I'm Peter Jon Shuler in San Francisco.

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