Will Cisco Destroy the Flip Brand?

Dave Zatz —  April 22, 2010 — 8 Comments

Back in February, I assisted a research firm putting together a Cisco report. While their analysis isn’t specific to Cisco’s Pure Digital acquisition and casual video gadgetry, it was an obvious topic of discussion. And I was far more bearish in my outlook than the project lead.

Cisco has an amazing opportunity to capitalize on the Flip brand but, given their primary focus on the enterprise and inability to move Linksys beyond one-of-many home networking commodity brands (despite an entire line of networked media devices that no one knows exist), I’m not sure they can. Overly complex devices of dubious value (like the Flip Share) and devices priced beyond the reach of their target market that bring nothing new to the table (like the just released Flip Slide) emphasize my point/concern.

My advice: Pull a marketing team together that understands branding, PR, and the retail market. Drop “Cisco” and “Linksys” from anything non-networking, including the aforementioned music streamers, and label them Flip. Simplify the experience and keep pricing under control. Isn’t that what made Flip videocams a hit?

8 responses to Will Cisco Destroy the Flip Brand?

  1. I debated even putting that last paragraph in, as it could be too late for the Flip brand. Also, I obviously didn’t mention the research firm or analyst I spoke with. They’d rather leave my name, their sources out of it.

  2. The reason Cisco paid half a billion for Pure Digital (the owner of Flip) was for the management team. Flip’s team has essentially been handed the keys to Cisco’s consumer division. Any marketing/branding decisions now are from the people who made the Flip work.

    Consumer is hard for Cisco. That said, while I don’t have access to any data – I believe I have heard Flip market share in digital video actually has gone up in recent quarters, so not sure if you concerns are being borne out in the market at this pont.

  3. Yeah, that was my bottom line: Consumer is hard for Cisco. If the same team is at work, guess they’re playing down to the level of their owners (or fighting against the culture with limited success). As more phones and still cams get solid video capabilities, they’re going to need to do more, better and get their name into more diverse gear to prosper. And get the word out, they need a message that resonates. Why do I want the Slide? What exactly does the Share do? Maybe they were a one trick pony. Not unusual, and unfortunately that was my experience at Sling.

  4. I applaud anything that removes single purpose, proprietary hardware from the market.

    I hope Google and Cisco use the momentum they gained from causing the extinction of in-car nav devices, MP3 players, camcorders et al and kill off proprietary STBs…

    ..oh wait, they are!

    http://gigaom.com/2010/04/20/breaking-google-buys-stealthy-startup-agnilux/

  5. Brilliant device, Dave. Yet so difficult for a company like Cisco to implement.

  6. I think the biggest challenge for Cisco is the network is at the core of what they do – and networked consumer device experiences are very hard to to do well unless you Apple-ize it (meaning you close your ecosystem, create easy-set-up limited funtionality devices, spend alot of design and software, make UI radically simple).

    Sonos has managed to do that, in a sense, with its devices, but it means you have closed-off devices. Cisco is trying do to that now, in a sense, with Flip.

    Cisco has a big hole in their consumer lineup in mobile, and I think Flip may be their answer. The question becomes do they capitalize, or see their device become the “Palm Pilot” of the video consumer world and watch as the world passes by. Jury’s still out.

  7. Almost exactly one year later, and we have our answer folks. Will Cisco destroy the Flip brand? Yes, yes they will.

  8. Good call on this one. I’m sad to see the death of Flip. It’s rather strange, because it has a bit of a cult following.

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