Did Apple’s iPhone 4 Just Kill the Flip?

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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supposed to be the next big step for Flip, as it transitioned to a touchscreen-based interface, but it already looked outdated when it made its debut earlier this year, missing multitouch and other UI essentials to which that smartphone users are already accustomed.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)

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