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After the Flip: We’re all polycamerous now

This morning, a tweeted link on Twitter lead to a conversation that went a little like this:

And the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that this was the true cause of the fall of the Flip.

The current narrative is that the role of the Flip has been eaten away by the rise of the smartphone. And it’s a seductive narrative, because smartphones are the new hotness, and this story reinforces that pre-conceived notion. But I actually think it’s more complex than that.

I did a quick inventory of the devices I have which are capable of recording video:

  • Flip Mino HD
  • Kodak Zi8
  • Canon IXUS 220HS
  • iPhone 3GS
  • MacBook Pro
  • Canon EOS 500D

All bar two of those (the MacBook Pro and the iPhone) are capable of recording in HD. By later this summer, I’ll be down to just one device that can’t record HD, as I plan on replacing my iPhone once the contract is up.

So, in fact, the Flip’s market has been attacked from all directions. Even basic, sub-£100 point and click still cameras are capable of video now, and they usually have better glass and sensors than the Flip. Kodak has expanded the range of options, with external mic sockets, and a waterproof model. And DSLRs are now video devices, too. I shot more video on my Canon EOS over christmas than anything else – in fact, I used it more for video than stills, possibly because it was my nephew’s first Christmas, and babies catch everyone’s attention….

Video is too prevalent, too common, too easy to produce for the Flip to survive at its existing price point. Did the smartphone play a role? Sure. Was it the only killer? No. Most of us are polycamerous now.

And, pleasingly, some of the lessons of the Flip are finding their way into other devices. My new Canon IXUS has a single, big red button for shooting video, aping the Flip and improving vastly on the multiple presses to record found in earlier models:

The Flip is gone, but the core need it served is being amply catered for.