What it was: The next generation of Cisco’s Flip video camera, with one major new feature—built-in Wi-Fi that let them sync wirelessly with a computer or broadcast video directly over the Internet.
Announced: Never! But it was supposed to be released on April 13th, 2011.
What they said when it was new: Cisco never told consumers about FlipLive, but when one of its representatives invited me to a pre-release briefing, it was described as a “new innovative family of products unlike any previous Flip you’ve seen!”
Died: April 12th, 2011, along with all other Flip models.
What they said when they killed it: “We are making key, targeted moves as we align operations in support of our network-centric platform strategy. 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.”—John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO, in a buzzword-laden statement concerning the company’s decision to end the Flip line and lay off the 550 employees responsible for it.
Why it really failed: Flip was very popular and apparently profitable. So it’s been widely speculated that Cisco’s goal involved showmanship as much as fiscal prudence: It wanted to create visible signs of blood to placate Wall Street.
Was it a tragedy it bit the big one? I know people who think so. It’s certainly too bad that Cisco didn’t attempt to sell Flip rather than blithely destroying a brand it had bought for $590 million just two years earlier. It’s true, however, that when I saw the FlipLive cameras, I came away thinking that they were largely more of the same rather than an exciting leap forward. Then again, the New York Times’ David Pogue used the phrase “tragic death” in his eulogy for Flip, and specifically praised FlipLive.
The aftermath: The decision to kill FlipLive along with all Flips was so abrupt that San Francisco (and, I assume other cities) were haunted by Flip ads on bus shelters for months after the bad news hit. And I wonder what Cisco did with all the FlipLives it had originally planned to put on sale the day after it ultimately axed the product? By now, they may be in landfill in New Mexico somewhere alongside Atari ET’s cartridges.
Next HP TouchPad (2011)