RIP Flip

I’ll bet the founders of Pure Digital are smiling this week. Cisco, who bought them and their popular line of Flip handheld cameras, shut down manufacture of the line. After spending $590 million on the company two years ago, Cisco shut them down. There are all kinds of reasons why Cisco might want to do this, but the plain fact is that if the Flip line up was still pulling in the cash it did back in 2009, they would have either kept it or sold it off.

In many ways, this is like Kleenex announcing they will no longer make tissue. I mean, Flip had significant name recognition. people would talk about buying a Flip camera, and mean buying a handheld camera. They made it easy to carry a video camera anywhere, and get good looking video that was easy to share on your computer.

And then they didn’t do anything else. They owned the handheld camera market. And then they stopped innovating, stopped improving. Oh, they released a few new devices. One with a larger screen. A larger capacity Mino. There were lways rumors of new Flips, one that could use WIFI to publish directly to the internet video sharing site of your choice. One that could stream video from the camera. Vaporware.

So, with no real enhancements to entice new purchases, once everyone who wants a Flip has a Flip, how do you make money again? Its not like they are poor quality, they last for years.

And the competition isn’t waiting around. I don’t mean Flip-like handhelds. Most of those are still offering the same features as a Flip. We use the now discontinued (But if you get lucky you can find one) Kodak Zi8 for work. It offered a slightly more “pro” set of features with external power and external audio input. (But most people buying Flip-like camcorders didn’t care about pro features.)

The real competition came from Smart Phones and iPod/Music Players. When Apple introduced the 5th Gen iPod Nano, it had a camera. Steve Jobs even said they were competing with Flip (name recognition). Now, you can capture video on a device that also did something else. A device smaller than the Flip Mino. These were not HD videos yet, but it was the beginning of the end. One generation of devices later, and every Smart Phone and iPod Touch could not only capture HD video, but edit and upload right from the device.

I own a Flip Mino, an iPod Touch, and an iPhone 4. Which of these do you think I will carry if i am trying to lighten the stuff in my pockets? I am letting my kids play with the Flip. I am taking the device that let’s me work and play, capture video, edit and upload. And lately I have been using the video capability through apps that add effects. It just does more than the Flip.

I have a friend who was lamenting the demise of Flip. He loves his Flip. He couldn’t believe they were not going to be available in the future. He pulled out his Flip Ultra HD. It’s the same one he has owned for a couple of years. These are the customers Flip could have capitalized on if they had offered anything worth upgrading to. Give him a Flip with WIFI, and he would have been posting to Youtube in about 3 seconds. Yes, his iPhone could do the same thing, but he likes to use the Flip. he just doesn’t like to use it enough to keep buying new ones that do the exact same thing his current one did.

The death of the Flip is a cautionary tale for every technology company. You cannot sit back with your successful product and expect it to stay successful. You must keep improving.


Kodak Zi8 in Stock… Sort Of

Best Buy online has the Kodak Zi8 in stock, and Kodak is offering a free 4GB SD card with purchase.

Could it be, they are finally available? If I go to my local store, will I see one?

Just yesterday I was in a conversation about how to shoot decent quality video and quickly be able to play it back. The Kodak Zi8 came up as a possible solution. With it’s external microphone jack we could capture decent video and audio for immediate playback before an event. The ability to drag footage in a play it back without capturing it and then exporting it would really help our workflow for this event.

$180 plus the XLR to mini transformer for the microphone, and we could be golden. If only I could hold one and see it in action.

Kodak Zi8? Anyone?

I got a comment on a recent post about the Zi8, Kodak’s phantom “flip killer” pocket camcorder. 1080p, external mic input, Shake reduction, focus tracking, etc…

They have been MIA for weeks now since the September release. The commenter said he was able to find one at a Target. I check the Best Buy online store, and there they were, listed… but backordered. Still, it’s progress. Previously they were not even listed. doesn’t show them, but you can buy a nice pink Zi6 for $130.

I suspect that by Christmas shopping season they will be readily available. Why Kodak didn’t wait until they were ready to launch I don’t know.

Kodak Zi8 May be the Worst Product Launch I Have Ever Seen

Back a couple of weeks ago I blogged my anticipation of the new Kodak Zi8 pocket camcorder. It’s a 1080p, external mic jack technological wonder. I was ready to purchase.

Now, 11 days later the only place I can find it is on But I want to hold it, and play with it before I purchase. All the brick and mortar stores that carry Kodak products do not yet stock the Zi8. I did see a local target that has put the Zi6 on clearance, which may mean they will soon have the Zi8 in stock. I can’t even pre-order it from the web stores of these large chains.

In contrast, I can already order the new iPods, just announced yesterday, from these places.

Kodak should take a lesson from Apple. Even the launch of the PS3 and Xbox 360 were better by comparison. At least they had some available at some locations. How can you release a major update to a product, a so-called “Flip” camera killer, and not actually make them available?

For now, I am waiting because I want the feature set. But I grow weary.

Zi8 Still MIA 10/10/09
Another about the Zi8 10/28/09
Another post about the Zi8 11/2/09
Another post about the Zi811/11/09
I have seen them in stock!

The Kodak Zi8 Releases Tuesday

I am still pretty stoked about the Kodak Zi8. For a pocket camera, I’m not sure it can be beat. Here’s a test video. The microphone is horrible, but remember it has an external mic input. I don’t think my consumer DV camcorder would have fared any better, audio wise. There are some glitches in this, and I wonder if it is because the shake reduction is trying too hard. I wonder it it had been a smaller object than a boat, or if shake reduction had been off, would the video have been smoother? (Does the youtube upload affect it?)

Even so. Compared to other pocket cameras, this one performs as well and have superior features.

At least, that’s what I think before I own one.

Kodak Zi8 1080p Pocket Camcorder

zi8A few days ago I heard about the soon-to-be-released pocket camcorder from Kodak, the Zi8.

It is the first 1080p pocket camera. It also does 720p @ 60fps or 30fps. Unlike the Flip cameras, you need an SD card to capture more than the onboard 128MB of storage. But you can use up to a 32GB card, which they claim results in 10 hours of video.

It has the facial focus system, sort of like the new iPhone 3Gs, and image stabilization. Also, it takes 5.0 MP still photos. You still use the built in USB plug to transfer files, and it comes with some sort of video editing software. H.264 compression in a QT .mov shell. That all sounds great, but the best new feature?

It has an external stereo audio input. That means you could use something like the Beachtek DXA2s or Shure A96f to convert a signal from a microphone using an XLR. You could use a professional microphone to capture sound. My biggest complaint about these small cameras has been the lousy audio quality. of course, to upgrade to professional capture you will spend more than you spent on the camera, but still the overall cost is a lot less than other pro audio input HD camcorders.

It’s no professional video camera. I doubt we will see any kind of decent low light performance. There is no zoom function except 4x digital zoom. I only guess it is as easy to use as the Flip HD.

$180 plus the cost of an SD card and case. I may have to pick one of these up this September.