Lamenting a Loss…a Little

Several SMUGgles anticipated my devastation at today’s news that Cisco is shutting down its Flip camera business.

Or at least they thought I would be interested, since I have written so frequently about the Flip, starting with this review in 2008. I had posts on:

You get the idea. It’s no secret I love the straightforward simplicity of the Flip. Others have cited the external microphone jack on the Kodak. I don’t hate the Kodak, but the flippy thing feels flimsier, and you need to buy a flash memory card. The Flip just comes ready to go.

Or at least it used to.

So what do I think?

First, this is a classic case of the disruptive technology being disrupted by others, in line with what Clayton Christensen writes about in his Innovator’s Dilemma series. The Flip “wasn’t good enough” for the best customers of Sony, and so Sony ceded the low end of the market. Eventually Pure Digital (which Cisco bought for over $500 million) kept improving the Flip until it became, for most people, more than good enough, including HD video. And certainly a better value than the old tape-based cameras.

Now the Flip has all sorts of competitors to provide video on the go, including various smart phones for which the “not good enough” stage is quickly passing.

I’m not going to get into the business decisions of Cisco, and whether it could have spun the business off or sold it to someone. I’ve got to believe that if Cisco management thought they could gain something by selling the business instead of laying off 500 employees, they would have done it.

One upshot is the Flip is going to become the generic term for this type of camera. Instead of a Flip camera that’s a brand, we will refer to flip cameras.

What will I do?

First, I might buy another Flip Ultra HD while I still can. It’s not like they wear out or will magically quit working because production is shutting down. Batteries are rechargeable, and you can also use standard AAs.

I also might consider upgrading my iPhone. I’m on a 3G. I didn’t get the 3GS and haven’t taken the plunge for the iPhone 4. My phone doesn’t take video, and since my AT&T contract expired almost a year ago, I’m free to explore options. I might just wait for the next version, since they seem to come out in the Summer.

But mainly, I’ll probably get a little nostalgic. The Flip made a huge difference for me. I’ve recorded a lot of my kids’ basketball games, first in SD and then HD. I’ve had a great experience with the Flip, and it has made turnaround on video shoots almost instantaneous. It seems odd that the most popular video camera in the world isn’t going to be made anymore.

One thing I know for certain, though, is that the demise of the Flip isn’t going to make flip video any less prevalent. Low-cost consumer-grade video is going to continue improving in quality and getting cheaper. It will just be done under a different brand name. And flip will become the generic term.

What’s your favorite Flip story?

Cisco Systems on Web 2.0 for Employee Communication


Maureen Kasper, Director of Corporate Communications for Cisco Systems, agrees that if communications professionals don’t become experts in social media, we will be obsolete.

As I’ve said previously, professional communicators failing to keep up with social media at least borders on malpractice.

She lives in the central coast of California, having moved south from Cisco’s San Jose office without telling anyone. This remote working has been made possible by social media and the real-life connections she made before the move. She says CEO John Chambers has been a communications champion.
Cisco Social Media Objectives: Encourage use of social media by giving access to the best tools, but protect both the corporation and individuals. They have done a major initiative on employee training.

Cisco has 20 officially sanctioned corporate blogs. Each is related to a corporate priority. Each unit/each employee looks to connect with the priorities relevant to their jobs.

She says the rules for social networking are the same as in the offline world, but just using the tools.

When commenting in a blog, be Transparent: State you are with Cisco, Use Cisco in your user name, use Cisco email, link to a Cisco website for reference (either your dept. page on or Tone should be conversational, thoughtful, thank for perspective, “perhaps you might consider” other fact that have not been as well represented. No corporate speak.

Maureen says: “If you want people to behave differently, take away the tools that let people interact the old way.”

They are developing an internal alternative to MySpace as a souped-up corporate directory called the Cisco Employee Connection directory. It will list personal skills and interests, expertise and other user-editable fields.

For example, she says Cisco IT doesn’t support Macintosh, but 1,000 of their employees use Macs. So they’ve formed an online user group to solve each others’ problems since they can’t count on official IT support. That’s the value of the Social Graph within Cisco.

Cisco also has Ciscopedia as a collaborative reference document and an internal portal they call Communications Center of Excellence (CCoE) that is available to anyone in the company. This is about “scaling the message” to 65,000 employees, because the communications leaders can’t be everywhere.

CCoE Content

  • Communications challenges, solutions, success stories
    • TEchnologies, process, behavior
  • Discussions throughout
  • News blog, Project Update blog
  • Roundtable Discussion show
  • One-Minute video overviews
  • Technology details
    • Education to Vision to Provisioning

Cisco did their first Virtual Company Meeting on Aug. 23, 2007 using Telepresence. You feel like you are in the same room with counterparts around the world. Here’s a cool example:


For Cisco, bandwidth is no object, so they use video mail and lots of leadership video on their intranet.

They also have discussion forums, the use of which depends on how much people care. The corporate strategy things don’t get much discussion, but the question of whether the green initiative meant taking away people’s water bottles had tens of thousands of discussants.

This was a very interesting presentation. I think one of her key points, as she mentioned above, is that you may need to “burn the ships” on some of the old communications technologies in order to drive adoption of the new. Otherwise, people will just settle back into familiar ruts.