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Pure Fantasy

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Pure Digital, which was acquired by Cisco announced a new version of FlipShare, the software that powers their camcorders. They are doing all the right things on the software front. The core appeal of Flip has always been its ease of use. This release addresses the social networking checkbox by making it easy to share videos to your favorite social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. In addition they added a P2P angle to it by offering mobile apps that run on iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices. The most intriguing part of the announcement though is on the hardware front. Flipshare TV is a companion product that consists of base station that plugs into your TV and a USB dongle that connects to your PC. Also thrown in is a remote control. The product is priced at $149 USD.

After the acquisition this is the first product where Pure Digital is leveraging Cisco’s strengths. Having said that I am not convinced that they got the synergies right. The media box landscape is littered with dedicated hardware boxes that were never able to break out of niche segments and appeal to broad audiences. Vudu and Akimbo come to mind. Even a product as well designed as TiVo found it hard to cross that chasm. Two big hurdles: the average consumer doesn’t want to add another piece of dedicated hardware that just does one thing to their already cluttered living rooms and the average consumer is reluctant to shell out money for dedicated hardware unless it’s massively subsidized by an operator. I think the price point has to be much lower (and perhaps they will get there with future versions) for this product to make any inroads. And why lock down the communication to just Flip devices. They should consider opening it up and exposing APIs so that you can push videos from any device to FlipShare TV. Also, wondering why Cisco didn’t consider making Flip recorders work seamlessly with Linksys routers or STBs (Scientific Atlanta) for that matter. Granted they will have to deal with pesky cable operators but there’s nothing standing between Flip camcorders and their own Linksys routers.

Perhaps this is just an opening salvo and future moves will clarify the direction Cisco is taking Flip. We will have to wait and see.

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Written by Varma Chanderraju

December 3, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Innovation, Video

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