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Jonathan Kaplan, CEO & Founder of San Francisco-based Pure Digital, the company behind the iconic Flip video recorder believes that neither the rise of the smartphone nor the Flip’s lack of connectivity killed the device. Instead, it was a corporate decision made by Cisco Systems, which is moving away from its consumer-centric push.
“What was good for Flip and the Flip team is not the same for Cisco’s shareholders,” he observed, declining to speculate on why Cisco changed its attitudes towards the consumer. When asked to explain why Cisco killed the Flip, he pointed out that it was part of Cisco’s overall strategy but he couldn’t comment on why Cisco had done it, since he no longer worked for the company. Kaplan said that the Flip brand is still very strong, and he has received thousands of emails from Flip owners wondering about Flip’s future.
Kaplan said he doesn’t know, but at the same time he said that he doesn’t believe that the smartphone is killing the Flip. “Cellphones will take high quality photos and videos but they are a different use case and billions of dollars can be generated in revenues from single purpose devices,” he added. They are both different use-case scenarios.
Hoever, from my perspective, in order for a device to thrive in today’s crowded marketplace it needs to have connectivity — that connection drives engagement and with it, attachment to the device. Any device that can in turn take that engagement and establish itself as a platform can reap many millions in profits. I outlined this theory in my post last month.
And that was perhaps the most glaring shortcoming of the Flip, an affordable, iconic video recorder that was such a rage that Cisco Systems paid $590 million for Pure Digital, the company behind the Flip.
When I asked Kaplan about the lack-of-connectivity being a problem, he disagreed. “We are San Francisco-based consumers and as a result we are a few years ahead of the market,” he said. But that’s a minority share of the overall market. In five years, he agreed most devices would have a connection to the network, but for now there remains a huge demand for single-purpose devices, especially the Flip.
Kaplan, left Cisco two months ago and is currently working on a new start-up that is around the concept of “memories.” He declined to share any details and he also declined to comment on any questions about him buying back Flip from Cisco. It would be cool, if he did – I still love my Flip.