The Flip has flipped. Shame I just bought one
It only seems like yesterday that an infinitely more tech-savvy colleague showed me the sleekly designed delight and built-in USB-port convenience of the Flip video camera. It was actually about two-and-a-half years ago, but sadly it was only a couple of months ago that I purchased one. This week, Flip’s owner Cisco Systems announced it was shutting down Flip.
Boo. It used to seem like being an early adopter was the risky strategy – you shelled out a high price for a glitch-laden technology that was far from certain from becoming the standard platform. Now the tech world’s metabolism is so fast, the risks of not being an early adopter seem almost as great.
Flip has gone from being glowing new kid to extremely popular camcorder vendor – in the US, more than here – to old-school irrelevance in just four years. But while tech analysts did largely blame high-speed innovation for Flip’s demise, it wasn’t just the cannibalistic powers of the smartphone that killed it. Its shutdown was also the result of a poor commercial decision by Cisco to acquire Flip’s maker, Pure Digital Technologies, in 2009. Cisco specialises in business networks rather than consumer technologies and couldn’t make Flip fit.
So Flip’s fate is not exactly that of the Sony Minidisc (another gadget loved and lost) all over again. For those who own the cameras, they still have the advantage of great battery life. No one’s going to convince me that the great age of technological convergence has arrived until smartphones boast something as basic as a battery that lasts longer than the parental supply of alcohol at a kids’ birthday party.
Still, whatever advantages it retains over its apparently more evolved replacements, few people like committing to a technology just when it’s about to become a collector’s item – something consumers might like to keep in mind next time they’re considering buying a PC. According to research firm Gartner, PC sales in the first quarter of 2011 fell 1.1 per cent worldwide and 6.1 per cent in the US.
(I also bought a cute little mini tripod for my Flip, although so far I’ve only used this as an office desk toy, splaying the cables of its three legs and twisting them into a spiral as the fancy takes me. Procrastination is never going to be an Apple/Google duopoly.)