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Back in 2009 Cisco bought Pure Digital Technology’s Flip. Gadget fans and makers were puzzled by this, phones were just about good enough to start beating the Flip. Odd purchase for Cisco. Some details from the WSJ

Cisco two years ago made a big splash by buying the maker of the Flip, the perfect-for-the-YouTube-age video camera that was then a tech geek accessory of choice. Now, Cisco is killing off the Flip.

Today, the company announced it will “exit aspects of its consumer businesses,” including shutting down Flip.

Just a week ago, Cisco CEO John Chambers issued a mea culpa admitting to problems with slow decision making and lack of “discipline” at the networking company. Chambers signaled that change was coming, and apparently Flip was steamrolled to make way for change.

In 2009, Cisco agreed to acquire Flip maker Pure Digital Technology in a stock deal valued at around $590 million at the time. The deal was one of Cisco’s biggest forays into the fickle, low margin world of consumer electronics. At the time (and since), analysts questioned whether Cisco was making a mistake by getting into the fiercely competitive business with established giants such as Sony.

And a bit more from Gigom

Cisco is giving up on its barely two-year-old $590 million purchase of Pure Digital Technologies, announcing today that it is closing its Flip business unit and cutting 550 employees as part of a larger restructuring. The move comes after clear signs that the outsized deal was not paying off for the technology giant, which is in the midst of refocusing its business on its core networking business.

Cisco said it will close the Flip business, but will continue to support current Flipshare customers who upload and share media to the web. Cisco said it will also refocus its Home Networking business to make it more profitable and connected to the company’s networking infrastructure. It will also move Umi, its consumer Telepresence, into the business Telepresence line and sell it through an enterprise and service provider go-to-market model.

Pt 10936

The Flip and cameras like it are cheap and attracted lots of hacks. From underwater ROVs to my favorite, mounting them on model rockets. Rocket-Launched Camcorder, MAKE 07.

But now it’s all gone? What a waste, Cisco, will you at least consider open sourcing the camera design(s) so you can put some value back in before you shelve the camera IP? You’re never going to do anything with it, just have someone post the firmware on GitHub and all the CAD stuff on Thingiverse. The rest, just publish anywhere, a BOM, etc. Allow your engineers to write about making these cameras – don’t let it all away like so many other tech acquisitions and destructions. Think of all the science, art, robotics and educational applications we could all gain by this – Cisco, you could be the first to release an open source camera for the world. Cisco, this would the best news in the world of making, it would show leadership and an investment in the future for anyone who used, hacked and improved this “open source camera” from Cisco. You don’t have time for this you can just send us the files, we’ll do it for you.


  • http://twitter.com/batfandotcom Ben Rollier

    Thats idiotic. They should sell the Flip division, rather than closing it down.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V32DQNET4GZYQLI6SWZUZ2KM2M TotalMonkey

    Something smells fishy here.

  • Anonymous

    It would be awesome… But like many things that should happen when companies pull the plug someone will kill the idea on the infinitely small possibility they could make money on it. But man it would be an instant niche industry if they did.

  • http://twitter.com/sireneast David Siren Eisner

    Great! Where do we sign?

    • http://thatsgross.wordpress.com David Gross

      Even as someone new to this maker community, I’ve already seen Big Making (Sony) turn around and do something that this community had wanted (to stop the bullying). Just yesterday was your (Phillip’s) comment that “our” tweets and efforts helped drop the case.

      Well, can “we” do “that” again, here? I may be the simple child, here, but what can we do to get Cisco to notice or consider this request? It’s real, it’s tangible, and if it happened it would be great. How can we make this a reality?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BHTJBEK3SHXMOAPE5DMRBHMEBU MikeR

    It’s difficult to imagine why Chambers is still the CEO.

  • Anonymous

    I am a person without a smart phone. i don’t want to spend that much money on a plan. I use the flip video camera for various family home video things and would loooooove an open source firmware for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paulcameron.me Paul Cameron

    The Flip camera was great because it was simple to use, one button film making was a great idea. They also understood that it wasn’t the capturing of material that was tricky it was moving from one platform to another that was the major hurdle. But the major flaw with the Flip camera for organisations was that if they ended up producing a lot of material it quickly becomes a management headache. And while video is great for lots of documentation it can’t cover everything, often you need a mix of different capture types.

    At VOXUR we believe that people and organisations use of video is becoming more sophisticated. As well as simply recording video they also require to capture other data and information around that, for example stills, questionnaires and geo tagging information. We feel that they need to be able to manage what they capture and to be able to filter it to extrapolate information and knowledge and finally they need to be able to share that in a variety of forms across different platforms. The good thing about the Flip is that it was easy to use, what ever comes next has to be as easy but do all these other things.

  • http://twitter.com/ant_oh_noes A Burns

    If Cisco open sourced the specs on a youtube enabled camera just think of the amount of thank yous they’d get from the makers whos ambitious projects became that bit more famous because the YouTube functionality was taken care of to begin with.

    Considering the trouble Sony went through because of Sony, they may yet be able to return to the market by changing how the game is played: treat the people they sell their goods to as part of an extended team than just entirely separate consumers. Give out the specs and watch as the brand starts becoming one of the few that rewrite how business is done. Try to make it a Pyrrhic victory for their competitors at least.

    Remember, there’s still some considerable resentment to Sony’s recent actions among makers.

  • http://asecular.com/ Judas Gutenberg

    bittorrent should be used as a sort of wikileaks for the sourcecode of abandoned projects. all of us developers have source code for long-abandoned projects (anybody want the ASP-MS SQL code behind Collegeclub.com circa 1999? — i thought not). it’s easy for us to anonymously release it into the public domain. such things are already routinely done for compiled code of obsolete equipment — such as the ROM of the old Commodore 64.

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