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Summary:

Apple’s new iPhone 4 features 720p HD recording, a built-in LED spotlight and the ability to edit videos on the spot through a dedicated iPhone version of iMovie. All of those features should make Cisco pretty nervous as they make the company’s Flip camcorder look outdated.

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs just announced the highly anticipated fourth-generation iPhone at WWDC, and the device is bound to make some people at Cisco pretty nervous: The iPhone 4 features 720p HD video recording at 30fps, an LED flash that doubles as a spotlight source for video recording and the ability to edit any video footage right on the device.

Video editing on the iPhone is enabled through a custom version of iMovie, which can be bought in the App Store for $4.99. The development of iMovie for the iPhone was led by Randy Ubillos, whose previous credits include the design and development of Adobe Premier and Final Cut Pro. The software features a number of themes and transitions and makes it possible to export video in 360p, 540p and 720p, all of which can be shared immediately via Wi-Fi or 3G networks.

Compare that to the latest Flip camera from Cisco, and it becomes clear why everyone’s favorite HD point-and-shoot camcorder could be in deep trouble: The Flip SlideHD was supposed to be the next big step for Flip, as it transitioned to a touchscreen-based interface, but it already looked outdated when it made its debut earlier this year, missing multitouch and other UI essentials to which that smartphone users are already accustomed.

Also notably absent was any kind of network connectivity. Cisco promised to bring networking to the camera when it acquired Flip maker Pure Digital for $590 million in March of 2009, but to date, Flip users still have to rely on the built-in USB port, and their desktop PCs, to share and upload videos.

Smartphone users, on the other hand, are increasingly getting used to immediately sharing their footage via their devices’ cellular network connections. iMove for iPhone just gave iPhone users another reason to skip the desktop, making it possible to do some basic editing before they upload clips to YouTube or Facebook.

Then there’s the iPhone 4 hardware. The device features a 3.5-inch screen with a resolution of 960×640 pixels that uses the same type of IPS technology as the iPad to support video-friendly viewing angles and a great contrast ratio. It also has a back-light illumination sensor that should help to capture situations with low and changing light conditions. It’s unclear at this point how much of an impact the integrated LED flash will really have on video recording, but it should help to persuade customers dissatisfied with their current camcorder’s performance under such conditions.

Speaking of customers, one of Flip’s big selling points has always been its low price point; a dead-simple HD camcorder for less than $200 is hard to beat. However, the new Flip SlideHD costs around $280 for 16GB of memory. Apple announced today that the iPhone 4 will start selling at $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB.

Expect Cisco to slash Flip prices any day now. However, one has to wonder whether that’s too little, too late to save the device.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: The Nano & Flip: Join the Conversation (subscription required)

  1. How does the chip in the iPhone compare to the Flip?

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  2. [...] Janko Roettgers at NewTeeVee: It [is] clear why everyone’s favorite HD point-and-shoot camcorder could be in deep trouble: [...]

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  3. It is when the Touch gets these features.

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  4. Let’s face it…. cell phones didn’t kill Digital Cameras.. they are still selling strong. Likewise, they won’t kill dedicated portable video cameras

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    1. The difference is, dedicated point-&-shoot (p-&-s) cameras have always been WAY better than any camera on any cell phone. But that line is blurring. In the Still Photo department, you can get some nice shots and with more powerful hardware and software, I can honestly see a day when the average person will do both a cell phone AND a (p-&-s).

      Everyone wants to take great photos and currently people who are serious about getting decent shots are dipping their toes in the SLR pool of varying prices. As cameras and software get better on cell phones, I see the point-shoot camera taking a big hit in sells. Especially when Apple will most likely offer a mobile photo editor. For me, I just don’t see decent (or any) photo editing on a (p-&-s). It already exists on the iPhone and will get more powerful as time marches on.

      Now, this is about the Flip and video — Apple is close on this. AND they have iMovie which eventually be free to everyone. Apple is too close for comfort and Cisco has a very big problem on their hands. iPhone 4 owners (and eventually iPod touch owners) are going to be in the mega-millions going forward as people trade up for $200-300 every couple of years. Also — think about this, people, … The other cell phone companies and let Apple have all the video glory. They will become competitive too. Combined competition against the Flip, Cisco has little going for it as smart phones have so much more going for them and are just a better trade-off in the long run… Not to mention that, even if money weren’t an option for anyone (funny, right?), who wants to lug both a cell phone AND a Flip camera around.

      The all-purpose device is going to be the death of all one-trick ponies.

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      1. I meant to say:

        “can honestly see a day when the average person will HAVE both a cell phone AND a (p-&-s).” They’ll have a cell phone on the low end and jump to SLR when the want a big jump in quality.

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      2. God – I must be on drugs… dangit!

        I truly meant to say:

        I can honestly see a day when the average person will ONLY have a cell phone for their camera and not bother with a Point-&-Shoot camera.

        Sorry for the double-flub!

        (I wish one could edit his/her posts… I used to that on various boards so I don’t proof too well before hitting the Submit button.)

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  5. Does the Flip and the iPhone really have the same target market? The iPhone site is all about the specs and the impressiveness of the device itself.

    The Flip site has a feature that is selling designs for the camera for Father’s Day.

    Perhaps the Flip market are people less technically-savvy than the iPhone?

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  6. I currently have a 3GS and a ultraHD flip cam. I dont mind have two separate devices (until i see real world footage from the iphone4) I do wish there was an iphone app so I could plug my flip directly into it to upload.

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  7. [...] Andrew Nusca, writing for The ToyBox on ZDnet.com says “Why Apple’s new iPhone 4 is not a Flip mini camcorder killer” which is the direct opposite of the NewTeeVee writer Janko Roettger’s point of view who says “Did Apple’s iPhone 4 Just Kill the Flip?” [...]

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  8. Richard Gratton Monday, June 7, 2010

    Comparing prices between the iPhone and the Flip is a little dodgy, given the total cost of ownership of the iPhone. So while the opportunity for Flip to sell cameras to people who buy the iPhone 4 is definitely taking a hit, but there are a lot more people in the market for a nice, cheapish hand-held camera.

    That said, I agree that Flip needs network connectivity sooner than later to stay relevant.

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  9. These two devices can’t be compared. Agreed that the new Flip is overpriced and missing a whole host of features. But no one who is looking to buy a digital video camera considers a device that is marketed and sold with the name “Phone” in it. One device has nothing to do with the other.

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    1. Dan, agreed, people won’t go to Best Buy to buy a camcorder and walk out with an iPhone instead… but that doesn’t mean that the iPhone won’t have an impact on Flip sales: iPhone 4 owners will be a lot less likely to buy a Flip if their phone already offers them a superior video capturing, processing and sharing experience.

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      1. Exactly. I have a 2 year old Canon point and shoot camera that I was thinking of upgrading. When I bought the Droid in November I held off on a camera. Then I got the Incredible when that came out and noticed that it also takes pictures as good as a $150 point and shoot camera, and I don’t have to carry around an extra device.

        My phone can handle pictures good enough for me now and if I ever need anything really high quality, I’d get a DSLR or something in the future. I think the same will happen with the Flip market. The iPhone and Android phones are going to get great 720p/1080p video recording and will be sufficient for the masses. People who own those devices will be less likely to buy the Flip cams. If they have bigger needs they’ll probably just get a good HD cam.

        Also, when you think of the combination of HD video, 4G connectivity and movie editing right in the phone. You’ll be able to produce and share high quality content so quickly it’ll be mind blowing.

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    2. For youngsters and other non smartphone owners, true. For me, false. But when/if the Touch gets similar features, then it’s mostly over.

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  10. Yep. iPhone 4 killed the Flip — and the Kindle (combining synched iBooks with the Retina Display makes purchasing a stand-alone eReader a thing of the past.

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