What Happened to Flip Video Camera

By Cecilia Hwung | Last Update:

Pulling out a mobile phone from your pocket and shooting a video is quite normal now. However, once for a long time, the title of pocket camera did not belong to the mobile phone, but to a brand called Flip Video by Pure Digital. The Flip Video camera created a big wave of pocket cameras before mobile phones and GoPro.

Under its influence, Kodak and Sony followed suit. And Steve Jobs also added a camera to the iPod nano 5 to make it a pocket camera. Recently, internal Google emails, revealed by the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, shows that the Flip Video camera almost became Google's first camera and perhaps the first Google-branded hardware product.

But now, you can nearly not find one such product on the market, because Cisco, which acquired Flip Video in 2009, has discontinued this brand for quite a few years. Even when we try to access its original selling website, it jumps to a page of Cisco.com's and returns nothing in the end.

So what happened to this great camera brand with millions of consumers? We took some time to find out what happened to the Flip Video camera. We follow the brand's history, describe the products and services it offered, and finally attempt to find out why it was discontinued.

The History of Flip Video Camera

Flip Video Camera
Flip Video Camera

In this part, we will walk through every big event of this Flip Video camera brand and also its company Pure Digital.

In 2001, theflip.com website became alive, which was just a platform for users to create their own accounts, then upload and share their personal photos.

In 2004, theflip.com website was re-designed for ure Digital to start selling its camera recorders and other products.

On May 1, 2006, Pure Digital released its first version of camera recorder - Pure Digital Point & Shoot. It was kind of like a reusable follow-on to the popular CVS One-Time-Use Camcorder. People could get it at CVS/pharmacy stores that were designed for direct conversion to DVD media.

In January 2007, Pure Digital completed $40 million funding led by AllianceBernstein and Morgan Stanley Principal Investments, which would provide capital to launch the world's first line of simple, pocket-sized camcorders designed to change the way people capture and share video.

On May 1, 2007, Pure Digital unveiled Flip Video, which was the new name for the previous generation of One-Time-Use Camcorder.

On September 12 2007, Pure Digital introduced the Flip Video Ultra Series, its next-generation line of highly compact digital camcorders to make it easier than ever for on-the-go consumers to shoot and share high-quality video. The Flip Video Ultra Series was the newest member in Pure Digital's popular Flip Video family of digital camcorders, the world's first camcorders with on-board software to enable editing, organizing, and seamless video uploading to AOL, YouTube and other video sharing sites.

The Flip Video Ultra Series was available nationwide starting September 12, 2007. Pure Digital provided two models for this series. The 60-minute (2GB) model was priced at $179.99 with four color options - white, black, orange and pink, while the 30-minute (1GB) model was $149.99 and came in only white and black. Here are the details about them:

  • A 1.5 inch transflective, no-glare display screen
  • 2 GB of memory for the 60-minute model and 1 GB for the 30-minute model
  • One-touch recording with 2x digital zoom
  • Instant on-camera playback and delete
  • High-speed video sharing from any PC or Mac
  • One-click emailing of videos and video greeting cards
  • Custom editing of movie mixes, with the option to set them to your own music
  • Capture of still photos from video
  • Built-in tripod mount
  • Convenient DVD processing option at over 9,400 one hour labs nationwide

On January 7, 2008, Pure Digital Technologies announced a donor-matching program designed to put the power of video to work for nonprofit organizations worldwide. The company committed to distribute up to one million Flip Video Camcorders to these organizations over the next five years. Announced as the Flip Video Spotlight program, non-profit organizations and other qualified non-governmental organizations (NGOs) could affordably use video as a tool to highlight the need for their services, better communicate with their donors, and broadcast their accomplishments to the world.

On May 30, 2008, Pure Digital introduced Flip Ultra to the U.K.

On June 3, 2008, Pure Digital introduced Flip Ultra to Canada.

On June 4, 2008, Pure Digital launched the mini version of Flip Ultra - Mino. The company advertised that this super-slim camera recorder weighed in at just over three ounces and was smaller than most cell phones. Users can fit Mino neatly into a jeans pocket to capture life's stories whenever and wherever they happened–at a party, a concert, the beach, even on a bike ride. And here are the product specifics,

  • Weight: 3.3 oz.
  • One-touch recording with 2x digital zoom
  • Touch-sensitive buttons for instant recording, playback, fast forward, rewind, pause and delete
  • Built-in software compatible with PC or Mac:
  • Instant upload to MySpace, YouTube, and AOL Video
  • One-click emailing of videos and video greeting cards
  • Custom editing of movie mixes, with the option to set them to your own music
  • capture of still photos from video
  • Order DVDs online and have them shipped anywhere in the world
  • TV connection for instant viewing (cable included)
  • Tripod mount
  • Available accessories (sold separately): AC power adapter, tripod, action mount, and pouch
  • At retailers nationwide including: Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com, Circuit City, Sears, Walmart.com, and TheFlip.com
  • Available in black or white; suggested retail price: $179.99

On July 30, 2008, the one millionth Flip Video camera was sold, according to Pure Digital.

On October 14, 2008, Flip Video family of camcorders announced a personalization platform that invited consumers to choose from thousands of professional designs or custom design their own Flip Mino camcorder. This online marketplace, created in partnership with CafePress, gave consumers the option to share their designs with the community to earn commissions for themselves or non-profit causes.

On November 12, 2008, Flip MinoHD - the world's smallest HD camcorder was introduced.

Flip MinoHD Features:

  • Weight: 3.3 oz.
  • Resolution: HD 720p
  • 4 GB of internal memory to record up to 60 minutes of HD video
  • 1.5 inch anti-glare LCD display
  • Internal, lithium ion battery recharges when USB arm is connected to computer
  • One-touch recording with 2x digital zoom
  • Touch-sensitive buttons for recording, playback, fast forward, rewind, pause and delete
  • Available in black at Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, WalMart.com, TheFlip.com and leading retailers
  • "Designable" at TheFlip.com
  • Suggested retail price: $229.99

On November 12, 2008, Pure Digital also introduced the FlipShare software, as they were announcing the MinoHD. You will get more information about this software in the following contents.

On April 30, 2009, the second generation of its Flip Ultra and the new Flip Ultra HD were introduced. They featured two hours of recording time, a large high-resolution two-inch screen, being pre-loaded with FlipShare software, and convenient battery recharging through the built-in USB arm.

Flip UltraHD Camcorder Features:

  • SRP: $199.99
  • Colors: Black, White (with chrome trim)
  • Video Resolution: High Definition, 1280 x 720
  • Records: 2 hours (8 GB built-in memory)
  • Screen: 2 inch – transflective (anti-glare)
  • Batteries: 2 x AA (rechargeable AA battery pack included)
  • TV Output: Widescreen with HDMI output
  • Zoom: 2 x Digital

Flip Ultra Camcorder Features:

  • SRP: $149
  • Colors: Black, White, Yellow and Pink
  • Video Resolution: 640 x 480
  • Records: 2 hours (4GB built-in memory)
  • Screen: 2 inch – transflective (anti-glare)
  • Batteries: 2 x AA (optional rechargeable AA battery pack sold separately)
  • TV Output: SD Composite Video
  • Zoom: 2 x Digital

On May 27, 2009, following its successful Canadian introduction in 2008, Flip Video introduced its full line of easy-to-use, portable camcorders into Canada.

On June 16, 2009, The FlipShare software was announced with a new version which came along with more new funny video sharing and editing features. The biggest one was that FlipShare gave users the ability to publish personal video channels online with Flip Channels. The innovative new Flip Channels feature enabled users to easily share their favorite Flip content with groups of people they designate. Once created, their personal Flip Channels could be instantly viewed online at FlipShare.com or on any iPhone model by using the new FlipShare for iPhone application.

On October 14, 2009, the second generation of Mino HD came to the market. This sleek device had a slightly rounder design, responsive touch-sensitive buttons, and a durable brushed metal finish. Along with great new looks, the second generation Flip MinoHD included double the memory for up to two hours of recording capacity, a bright two-inch transflective screen for no-glare viewing even in direct sunlight, and an HDMI jack for direct input to HD televisions with an HDMI cable, priced at $229, compared to the previous Flip Mino HD.

Flip MinoHD, 2nd Generation Camcorder Features:

  • MSRP: $229.99
  • Now Available at leading retailers and online retailers
  • Colors: Brushed Metal or personalized at theflip.com
  • Video Resolution: High Definition, 1280 x 720
  • Records: 2 hours (8 GB built-in memory)
  • Screen: 2 inch — transflective (anti-glare); 960 x 240 pixels
  • Audio: Built-in wide-range, omni-directional microphone; built-in speaker with software volume control
  • Battery: Built-in rechargeable (Lithium Ion); up to 2 hours use
  • TV Output: Widescreen with HDMITM output
  • Zoom: 2 x Digital

On October 22, 2009, Flip Video announced the introduction of the Flip Mino and Flip MinoHD camcorders into the Mexican market.

December 2, 2009, Flip Video announced the availability of FlipShare 5.0 software. In this new FlipShare version, consumers could have instant video sharing to mobile phones through the introduction of the FlipShare Mobile app for iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices.

On December 2, 2009, the makers of the acclaimed Flip Video family of camcorders announced a brand new innovation in home video sharing called FlipShare TV. We will share more information about this product in the following contents.

On April 13, 2010, the all-new Flip SlideHD was introduced. With Flip SlideHD, active consumers and families could record up to four hours of HD video, or store up to 12 hours of content, and then view it instantly with a stunning slide-up full widescreen.

Flip SlideHD Product Specifications:

  • Color: White/Silver and Personalized
  • Recording Time: Up to four hours
  • Storage Time: Up to 12 Hours
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Screen: 3-inch wide transflective touch screen
  • Video Resolution: High Definition; 1280x720 (30fps)
  • Video Format: H.264, MP4
  • Battery: Internal Li-ion rechargeable
  • Battery Life: Up to two hours
  • TV Output: HDMI Widescreen
  • Zoom: 2x digital
  • Audio: Stereo speakers, headset jack
  • Available for an MSRP of $279.99
  • On June 17, 2010, Flip Video teamed up with the movie M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies.

    On September 20, 2010, all-new Flip Video lineup of UltraHD and MinoHD was debuted. These New video cameras featured Flip Video simplicity, enhanced HD video quality, hardware-based image stabilization, expanded product personalization options, and more ways to share video using preloaded FlipShare software. Flip also announced Designed for Flip, a new program offering fun accessories from a wide range of partners that include everything from wide angle lenses and external microphones to battery chargers and a portable projector.

    Here are the product Specifications:

    Model UltraHD 8 GB/ 2 Hour UltraHD 4 GB/ 1 Hour MinoHD 8 GB/ 2 Hour MinoHD 4 GB/ 1 Hour

    Color

    Black, White and personalized White, Magenta, Blue and personalized Black and personalized Silver and personalized

    Recording Time

    2 hours 1 hour 2 hours 1 hour

    Memory

    8 GB 4 GB 8 GB 4 GB

    Video Resolution

    High Definition; 1280x720 (60fps) with image stabilization High Definition; 1280x720 (30fps) High Definition; 1280x720 (60fps) with image stabilization High Definition; 1280x720 (60fps) with image stabilization

    Suggested Retail Price

    $199.99 $149.99 $229.99 $179.99

    On December 2, 2010, FlipShare software was updated for the holiday season. With the new version of FlipShare software, Flip Video users could get creative and have some fun creating and sending personal video greeting cards to their friends and family. Using the latest FlipShare software, pre-loaded on all Flip video cameras, users could easily record a personal message and load it into one of dozens of holiday inspired greeting card templates.

    Other Flip Video Camera Accessories

    FlipShare TV

    FlipShare TV was a service which brought the user's entire Flip Video library of photos and videos into the family room and onto the TV screen without wires, and let them share video instantly with other FlipShare TV owners. FlipShare TV extended the Flip Video product family by making it even easier for Flip users to enjoy and share video with friends and family anywhere.

    FlipShare TV Features:

    • Watch FlipShare video and photo library instantly on the TV
    • View any shared Flip Channel videos on the TV
    • Share Video with anyone else who has a FlipShare TV
    • FlipShare TV Includes: TV Base, USB Key, and Remote
    • TV Base Console: 4.6 x 4.6 x 1.3 inches / 4.6 oz
    • Remote Control: 3.9 x 1.6 x .04 inches/ 1.3 oz
    • USB Key: 3.5 x 1.0 x 0.5 inches / 0.6 oz
    • Wireless: 802.11n point-to-point proprietary interface (does not require a home wireless network)
    • Batteries: 2 x AAA for remote (included)
    • Composite cable included

    Pricing and Availability

    • MSRP: $149.99
    • Availability: Amazon, BestBuy.com, Target.com, Wal-Mart.com, and the official Flip Store at theflip.com

    FlipShare software

    This was a built-in video editing program for MinoHD, enabling easy video viewing, editing, organizing, and sharing. FlipShare allowed consumers to plug the Flip Video camcorder's signature flip-out USB arm into any Macintosh or PC and immediately share videos via email, or upload them directly to YouTube, MySpace, AOL Video and other popular video sharing sites.

    FlipShare Software (version November 12, 2008) Features:

    • On-board application installs directly when connected to any PC or Mac
    • Drag-and-drop interface for easy browsing, playback, organizing and video archiving
    • Integrated online video publishing to YouTube, MySpace, and AOL Video
    • Free, unlimited private emailing of videos and video greeting cards
    • Custom movie editing, with the option to use your own music and add titles/credits
    • Capture still photos from any standard or high definition video
    • Order DVDs online and have them shipped anywhere in the world
    • TV connection for instant viewing (cable included)
    • Tripod Mount

    FlipShare Software (version June 16, 2009) Features:

    • Pre-loaded software to save, organize, and edit videos with ease
    • Works on any PC or Mac
    • Email videos and video greeting cards
    • Upload videos instantly to YouTube and MySpace
    • Capture HD snapshots from videos using enhanced freeze-frame capabilities and share them along with videos
    • Create Flip Channels to share content privately with groups of friends or family or to access your own content on the web
    • Watch videos on-the-go at flipshare.com
    • Create custom movies with your own music
    • Enjoy your videos in full-screen play mode
    • Order DVDs and have them shipped anywhere in the world
    • View your favorite FlipShare videos and snapshots on any iPhone model
    • Access Flip Channels instantly from anywhere on iPhone
    • Watch Flip Channels from friends and family on iPhone
    • Download for free at the iPhone App Store

    FlipShare 5.0 Software Features:

    • Available now at www.theflip.com/support (at no cost)
    • Pre-loaded software to organize, edit, and share videos
    • Works on a PC or Mac
    • Email videos and video greeting cards
    • Upload videos instantly to Facebook™, YouTube™ and MySpace™
    • Create Flip Channels to share content privately with groups of friends or family
    • Share instantly to mobile phones using the FlipShare Mobile app
    • Share instantly to any TV using FlipShare TV
    • Capture HD snapshots from videos
    • Watch videos on-the-go at FlipShare.com
    • Create movies or use Magic Movie to create custom movies in moments
    • Available for iPhone, Blackberry, and Google’s Android platform (at no cost)
    • Mobile Devices currently supported: Apple iPhone, iPod touch; Blackberry Curve 8520, Curve 8900, and Bold 9000; Google G1 (T-Mobile) and MyTouch (T-Mobile)
    • View favorite FlipShare videos and photos
    • Access their personal Flip Channels
    • Watch Flip Channels from friends and family
    • Create playlists (iPhone) and favorites
    • Share videos by email or on Facebook
    • Users can find the links for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android mobile apps on the www.FlipShare.com site or at their respective app stores

    FlipShare Software (December 2, 2010) Features:

    This version of FlipShare made it easier for consumers to share their videos using new private sharing features that incorporated social networking capabilities so users could share videos with friends and family as well as send and receive comments. In addition, Flip's Facebook fans could also enjoy the new Flip Video greeting card application on Facebook which enabled users to load any video into a fun holiday greeting card to share with their friends.

    In addition this version of the pre-loaded FlipShare software offered improved private sharing options and the ability to quickly import contacts from their online email accounts such as AOL, Google, Hotmail and Yahoo. The private sharing feature enabled consumers to easily and privately share their videos with friends and family - plus share comments on their favorites. It’s like having a private video community page for people who want to share only with their friends and family.

    On December 7, 2010, Flip Video teamed up with NHL (the National Hockey League) to offer 30 uniquely designed NHL team Flip video cameras, at $149. In addition, Flip Video also offered their Facebook fans a chance to win Flip cameras and a trip to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover.

    Acquisition By Cisco

    Cisco Logo

    Cisco, a well-known business hardware manufacturer, pounced on Pure Digital's meteoric growth in the market and bought it in 2009. Cisco Systems acquired Pure Digital Technologies for $590 million in stock on May 21, 2009. Widget UK began selling the Flip series in Europe in 2009, following Cisco's acquisition of the company. And after the acquisiton, Cisco led the Flip Video team to bring up several another new products, including the second generation of its successful Flip MinoHD series, the Flip SlideHD - the newest member of its breakthrough Flip Video range, etc.

    What then Happened to Flip Video Camera

    However, things were not going quite well after that. On April 12, 2011, Cisco announced that it "will exit aspects of its consumer business" which included shutting down the Flip Video division. But why Cisco decided to do that, especially considering the Flip Video family were able to make about 400 million dollars a year for Cisco?

    400 million dollars were big money for many companies. But to Cisco, it seemed not. Slowing sales pace, however, is unlikely to be the primary reason for Cisco's decision to discontinue the Flip product. Cisco's main issue was most likely rationalizing the consumer business's weak product margins. Cisco is accustomed to profit margins in the 60% to 70% range. Consumer electronics, on the other hand, are fortunate to have profit margins in the low 30% level. Despite the fact that Flip was already a well-known brand, its cameras, which typically sell for between $100 and $200, were likely not profitable enough for Cisco.

    Besides, over the last few years, the cameras on iPhones and other mobile devices had improved dramatically, thus separate cameras were becoming obsolete. According to several analysts, the Flip was experiencing increasing competition from camera phones. So this could also be one possible reason.

    The second doubt about this event is that why Cisco didn't attempt to sell the Flip unit. Overall, the company were profitable, but it disappointed the Wall Street as profit margins had dropped and growth estimates had been pulled down. Dumping valuable, although mismatched, assets down the garbage disposal would not persuade Wall Street that you had a bright future. Besides, there were a lot of patents in the Flip Video family. Cisco might not want to sell them to other companies or even competitors.

    Even though Cisco announced its decision of shutting down the Flip Video camera buisiness on April 12, 2011, it still provided customer services, like FlipShare software support, personal data saved on the website, etc. until December 31, 2013. And we noticed that the official website theflip.com was also shutting down in January, 2014 completely.

About The Author

Cecilia Hwung is the marketing manager of Digiarty Software and the editor-in-chief of VideoProc team. She pursues common progress with her team and expects to share more creative content and useful information to readers. She has strong interest in copywriting and rich experience in video editing tips.

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