Educators disappointed with Cisco’s camera flip

The Flip's features have been copied by other manufacturers, but it's still the most popular pocket-sized video camera.

Cisco Systems Inc., one of the titans of the technology industry, on April 12 said it is killing the Flip Video, the most popular video camera in the U.S., just two years after it bought the startup company that created it.

It appears to be a case of a large company proving to be a poor custodian of a small one, even one that makes a hit product. Cisco never meaningfully integrated the Flip Video into its main business of making computer networking gear.

Flip Video users—including many educators—are now lamenting the demise of a camera that broke new ground. It was inexpensive, pocketable, and very easy to use, from shooting to editing and online sharing—features that made the camera extremely popular among teachers and students. These features have been copied by many other manufacturers, but the Flip Video still outsells them.

“Yet another loss to teachers! Very sad. This is such a useful tool. Sorry so many will lose their jobs as well,” one eSchool News reader tweeted in response to the news.

“It’s a shame, those ‘camcorders’ really helped make movie making easier,” another tweeted.

Nicole Bremer Nash, a freelance writer in Louisville, Ky., calls the Flip Video “the little camera that could.”

“I was hoping they’d continue the line and expand the accessories for it, instead of getting rid of it altogether,” she told the Associated Press.

The Flip Video is named after an arm that flips out of the camera body and lets the user connect it directly to a computer. The camera even contains video-editing software that fires up on the computer.

“I just find it a really easy process to use, and that’s why I really enjoy my Flip camera,” said Courtney Sandora, another Louisville resident. She’s been using Flip cameras for three years, and said she was “saddened and shocked” by Cisco’s decision.

“There were many opportunities for Cisco to integrate Flip more into its vision of a networked world,” said Ross Rubin, an electronics industry analyst at NPD Group. “The camcorders, for example, never even had Wi-Fi built into them.”

Rubin added: “It was a brand the company had invested heavily in and could have leveraged for all kinds of consumer video experiences—video conferencing, security applications, et cetera.”

Cisco didn’t explain why it’s shutting down the Flip Video unit rather than selling it. But the decision is part of a larger shakeup at the world’s largest maker of computer networking gear. After several quarters of disappointing results and challenges in its core business, the company is reversing years of efforts at diversifying into consumer products.

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