Friday, February 11, 2011

Cisco's Pocket Cam Management Team Flipped Out

Cisco reports that the boss of its Flip pocket-cam unit, Jonathan Kaplan, is leaving the company effective immediately. And Michael Wolf of Gigaom questions whether Cisco's $590 million acquisition of Pure Digital (the company behind the Flip cam) has been a flop.

Here's the thing. The Flip pocket video cam was a game changer when it was first introduced a few years back. While all other video cam manufacturers kept making their devices more and more complex by packing additional functionality, Flip did the opposite -- it stripped down the device, made it drop-dead easy to use, offered high quality video capture, and bundled a companion FlipShare video management and sharing service a la Apple that gave customers an immediately compelling out-of-box experience.

But, Flip is and always has been a single purpose device for video capture. And, no matter how good it was (and is), I always felt -- from the beginning (see my earlier post on the subject) -- that life would pass it by with the onslaught of the all-purpose smart phone (such as the iPhone) where high def video capture is just one more functionality. Flip users must carry two devices at all times -- their Flip and their phone. Apple iPhone users only one. There's the rub!

Does that mean the Flip is dead? Not at all. But, the road ahead is challenging. Flip needs to demonstrate that its overall experience is second to none -- quality, functionality, bundled FlipShare service. And, it needs to foster its rabid community of users who swear by the device. At this point, those messages have been drowned out by all the smart phone noise around it.