So, now that the sad stuff’s out of the way, let’s get real. Cisco just axed Flip, yeah, but the blame should be aimed squarely at the smartphone in your pocket. Well, really, the praise should be aimed at your phones. There was a time when having a dedicated digital camcorder made sense. Point-and-shoot cams recorded crap, DSLRs were available within the budgets of minor deities alone, and video from a phone was hilariously bad – minuscule, riddled with artifacting, and looking like a streaming movie from 1998.
That time ended a while ago. Last June, while evaluating the iPhone 4’s terrific camera, we noted “there’s no reason to carry a separate cheap camcorder ever again”. It was true then, and Cisco’s realised it now. The video quality possible via iPhone 4 (and other smartphones, for that matter) precludes justifying another plastic thing in your bag or pocket. It’s redundant. It’s wasteful. Yes, the top of the line Flip Ultra HD had a couple things my iPhone 4 doesn’t – image stabilisation and 60fps shooting powers, namely. But I’m willing to take a little quality cut if it means I can use one object, instead of two – the image the Flip whipped up just wasn’t good enough to stand alone as a separate product. Baby lens HD is baby lens HD, whether it’s coming from a phone or a Flip. Convergence wins out (I can’t remember the last time I used a dinky point and shoot for stills), and given a little more time, smartphones will feature-beat the Flip Ultra HD.
So as much as this is a dark day for the alleged 550 Flip-related employees getting the axe, it was a day we all saw coming. Like putting down an old blind mule with no hooves, in 2011, killing the Flip is killing something useless.