Sources said Cisco had signaled its desire to exit the consumer market and was advised to seek a buyer for the Flip business. It is not known if Cisco engaged in discussions with any other company about a possible sale. A spokesperson for Cisco did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.
"Sometimes it comes down to what the accountants have to say," Gartenberg said. According to Gartenberg, it seems likely that Cisco calculated that it would be easier and ultimately less costly to simply shutter the unit and write it off, rather than going to the time and trouble of finding a buyer and selling Flip at a considerable loss. "Someone at Cisco ran the numbers and decided that this was the way to go," Gartenberg said.
New York Times columnist David Pogue last week theorized that the most plausible reason Cisco choose to kill the Flip business rather than sell it is because Cisco wants to hold onto the Flip technology, presumably to apply to other areas. But it's not clear what about the Flip technology would be applicable to Cisco's other businesses, though the company said in its statement last week that video remains one of its five key company priorities. (Pogue also reported that Cisco was supposed to release a new Flip model last week, FlipLive, capable of live video broadcasting to the Internet).
Jordan Selburn, a consumer electronics analyst at market research firm IHS iSuppli, said that despite Flip's position in the marketplace, the Flip unit may have simply been unprofitable. "Cisco may have simply decided that they don't have consumer DNA," Selburn said.
"Part of the problem with Flip was once you bought one, you never had a reason to buy another one," Gartenberg said, adding that Cisco "lacked an understanding of the marketplace."
"This is a sad thing for the whole industry," said Rick Doherty, co-founder and director at the Envisioneering Group. Doherty said the Flip design team made a serious impact on the consumer electronics world and predicted that its members would resurface and "spread their wings."
"Camcorders are still a good business for many people," Doherty said. "There will be more innovation there, and great things will probably be coming. It's just a shame that Cisco took this route of not heeding industry trends and not, it seems, even respecting the company that they acquired."
So it would seem that we can't make a case against convergence alone in the killing of the Flip. But clearly its fingerprints were among those found at the scene of the crime. According to Selburn, the "dedicated single-tasker"—a gadget with only one application—is under fire in all areas of consumer electronics, thanks in large part to the threat posed by multiple-application devices like the smartphone and media tablet. "That doesn't mean that they are all going away or doing badly," Sulburn said.
Let's take a look at some of the other heretofore popular—even beloved—consumer electronics devices that face threat from this menace at large.
Flip was also facing competition from still cameras. More and more of them have a setting for video. Maybe Cisco didn't want to get sucked into a cutthroat digital camera market and found the tax writeoff more palatable. If the death of Flip opens a niche, surely someone will step in to fill it.
There are plenty of parallels to use as a comparison and predictor of the future of the stand-alone video recorder / camera / other device vs. the all-in-one smart phone.
In the music and video playback market, you can buy components or self-contained systems. In the computer world, you can buy individual components or all-in-one units. Yes, it is jack of all trades and master of none. That's not good enough for a lot of people, but it is good enough for quite a few people.
If you need pro-quality of any of the specific capabilities, you will likely buy a stand-alone version of that. If the quality offered in a smart-phone is good enough for you, then you'll likely go for the convenience of the smart phone.
In terms of quality, a lot of people talk about the limited quality of many of the camera phones. Again, take a step back a few years. There were high-quality 35mm and larger format cameras. There were also plenty of point-and-shoot moderate quality 35mm cameras, 110, 126 and Polaroid cameras sold. Compare the quality of the latter four and you'll probably come out at about a 1 Mpixel or lower digital equivalent.
Any true professional would balk at using a smatphone for all their needs.
A professional photographer would use a very high end digital camera or still use emulsion when blowing up pictures to larger sizes. Recording video on a smartphone is akin to those grainy & shaky videos on youtube. If you want real quality, you'd use a dedicated video device.
Wired magazine had an article on "good enough" technology about a year ago. It detailed nicely how we've given up quality for the sake of convenience. Smartphones fall perfectly into that category. They do many things that are good enough to be acceptable to many users but they do not excel at any single task. I've never owned a Flip, but it appears it was a single task device that was on the top of its market.
Apparently none of the items you mentioned have been enough to convince teens to wear watches. They've pretty much switched to cell phones. Oh, and they don't like to answer their phones either. Texting has pretty much replaced talking.
OK, but one must keep in mind that more pixels come at a price: smaller pixels. This in turn means less charge to be accumulated, therefore lower signal to thermal noise ratio and very much smaller dynamic range. In other words, poorer images. Also, larger prints are viewed from a longer distance, so resolution matters less. The only place where higher resolution is really necessary and where the above price is (somewhat) tolerable is in reconnaissance. There one looks at every pixel. Hardly the situation in a phone camera.
There is a valid point hiding in your post, but obscured by overstating it. Sometimes you want to print an 8"x10" and frame it. Sometimes you just want to zoom in on an image and see more detail. 1MP won't be good for either of those. But 6MP probably would be. 12MP certainly would be. And: what you do with extra pixels on a 4x6 print is average them together to reduce visible noise. It's much easier to reduce noise on a 12MP image without losing significant detail than on a much lower resolution image, where the noise features are about the same size as the details of the image.
Me too ... when my watch is between batteries ... but then you have to remember to put the cel on vibrate in meetings.
Also, the "access time" of a cel phone is longer, you have to take it out of your pocket rather than just looking at your wrist. So again, the simple, single-function device is superior to the expensive multifunction device for the particular job it does!
Interesting article. It is ever thus in this industry. We saw this decades ago with multifunction devices combining printing, copying, faxing, and scanning. Smartphones eat at the margins in real ways as will tablets as they catch hold in both the business and consumer spaces.
Notebook and Desktop manufacturers should be heeding the warning signals playing out in the smartphone convergence use case. It's coming to their space as well.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.