[Update] How Steve Jobs Killed the Flip Video Camera


Update 1: Founder of Flip, Jonathan Kaplan talks to ATD’s Kara Swisher about the end of his ‘baby’: (requires Flash):

Less than two years ago Cisco purchased Pure Digital Technologies, the maker of the Flip video camera for just under $600 million dollars. Cisco announced today they are shutting down the Flip acquisition to refocus on its networking business.

The Flip video camera was neat when it was announced because it offered HD videos in your pocket. Small and portable, what could be better? That is until smartphones such as the iPhone 3GS got digital video taking capabilities. The iPhone 4 can now take 720p video, which rivals and surpasses any Flip camera. Why carry multiple devices when you can just have one? The best camera is the one with you, right?

Apple recognized the Flip Video’s success and had them in their sights. Steve Job compared the Flip Video versus the fifth generation iPod Nano, that debuted in Fall 2009 at the “It’s Only Rock and Roll” keynote. Here’s what Steve announced, with his “one more thing…” (fast forward to 1:15):

“…and this market’s really exploded–and we want to get in on this.”

With the cheaper price and higher storage capacity, Apple made it explicit they were targeting Flip Video. Why would consumers buy the Flip, when video would come “free” with the iPod Nano (plus it was an iPod, FM transmitter, etc)?

Steve Jobs killed Flip Video cameras, along with the evolution of camera and video technology in smartphones and digital cameras.

I never was interested in Flip video cameras, but I do see how they became popular. John Gruber predicted the demise of the Flip years ago–at the time, nobody saw this coming. Today, the free market speaks leaps and bounds, and it became clear to Cisco keeping the Flip afloat would not be worth their time.

Press release below:

SAN JOSE, CA–(Marketwire – April 12, 2011) – As part of the company’s comprehensive plan to align its operations, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) today announced that it will exit aspects of its consumer businesses and realign the remaining consumer business to support four of its five key company priorities — core routing, switching and services; collaboration; architectures; and video. As part of its plan, Cisco will:

  • Close down its Flip business and support current FlipShare customers and partners with a transition plan.
  • Refocus Cisco’s Home Networking business for greater profitability and connection to the company’s core networking infrastructure as the network expands into a video platform in the home. These industry-leading products will continue to be available through retail channels.
  • Integrate Cisco umi into the company’s Business TelePresence product line and operate through an enterprise and service provider go-to-market model, consistent with existing business TelePresence efforts.
  • Assess core video technology integration of Cisco’s Eos media solutions business or other market opportunities for this business.

“We are making key, targeted moves as we align operations in support of our network-centric platform strategy,” said John Chambers, Cisco chairman and CEO. “As we move forward, our consumer efforts will focus on how we help our enterprise and service provider customers optimize and expand their offerings for consumers, and help ensure the network’s ability to deliver on those offerings.”

$600 million dollars, gone. Don’t you love how fast technology is evolving?

[GigaOM via Marketwire]


  • Khanh

    Steve Jobs killed the Flip video camera? Don’t you think that is an elaborate overstatement? There are many devices out there that arguably take better videos than the iPhone. If anything, I would say high end Android devices killed the iPhone. Some can take even better videos, and have card slots.

  • Dennis

    Man… You guys are brutal on here sometimes. Flip was doing actually well among the younger audience. The nano key note video ( if you watched it ) targeted it.

    How does Android take better video? Android doesn’t manufacture the hardware. Is there a particular phone (that uses android) you are speaking of that has killed the iPhone? I’m sure the iPhone has had better success than that specific model. Nothing has been able to kill the iPhone. They are years ahead of the game… Btw, you can have your card slot, my phone is made of glass and steel and doesn’t have a scratch on it 😉

  • Calgary

    i have to agree, this site is sometimes very brutal. stick to news and real updates. just because there is nothing going on, we don’t need garbage.

    and jobs didnt kill the flip phone. all jobs has really done is push cell phone networks to expand their data capabilities and this is done by over charging customers (and limiting iphone plans, so are stuck with a higher plan as compared to other smartphones).

    yes the iphone is more elegant, it’s camera is good BUT no cell phone camera can really compare to a real digital camera or a SLR. Yes every camera can take good pictures outside, so don’t say my phone camera is awesome. Its really not, its ‘good’

  • CiD

    I think Cisco killed the flip more then Steve. Cisco has been killing a lot of companies like Sipura and now Purevideo… Cisco should of never bought these companies to begin with… They were a networking company to begin with.

  • Agreed, they tend to buy companies with limited shelf life to begin with, and unless you work really hard they die quite quickly. The flip was doomed, doesn’t matter what phone you have most have better performance then flip. Digital cameras in general are feeling the pinch because of smart phones. I don’t care how good your digital SLR is, most people want a point and shoot, and why buy one when you phone comes with one. Kids are running around with their BBs and Iphones..and yes androids taking vids, they did it at first with flip, because their parents wouldn’t get them a smart phone till they were older. That market just got older. Oh and Kaplan saw the writing on the wall as well, its why he sold the company.

  • Anonymous

    Should I tell you to shut the fuck up? If you don’t like posts from this website then just don’t fucking read it!

  • Ex


  • Chrimu

    So they stop producing ancient electronic devices. I appreciate this environment-friendly step. It is not Steve Jobs who killed the flip. It is time and innovation.

  • Anonymous

    I would say smart phones killed the Flip video camera. How much of the smartphone evolution can be credited to SJ is less clear.