The networking giant is killing the Flip video business to "realign" its priorities. But Flip isn't the only consumer-oriented venture that hasn't worked out for Cisco.
The news today that Cisco has decided to kill the Flip video business was sudden, but not altogether shocking considering the competitive landscape for small, mobile HD video cameras. Most smartphones can take HD video and easily upload it to the Web now, something that when Cisco bought Pure Digital for $590 million wasn't as commonplace. But with the growth of smartphones there's less need for a separate portable HD video device.
Cisco purchased Pure Digital, the maker of the popular flash-based camera because it was clearly the leader in its field. The Flip Video set itself apart by making the process of creating, editing, and uploading short videos to sites like YouTube very uncomplicated. In the two years before Cisco bought it, Pure Digital--a nobody in the consumer electronics world--said it sold 2 million devices.
The Linksys Wireless Home Audio system, introduced in early 2009, was designed to be a Sonos killer. It bore a remarkable resemblance to the Sonos Multi-Room Music System, offering networked base stations designed to live in several rooms of the house and play digital music from networked PCs or online audio sources.
FlipShare TV was a baffling product launched in late 2009 that allowed you to share your Flip videos to your TV via a USB adapter for your PC and the FlipShare base station.
Rather than building the video-sharing capability directly into the already popular Flip camera, it came up with the FlipShare TV, which just seemed like extraneous hardware that served a single purpose.
It was never really heard from again after the initial introduction.
The Linksys Media Center Extender w/ DVD was supposed to be Cisco taking advantage of its purchase of Kiss Technology for $60 million in 2005, a company that made DVD players that could connect to the Web.
Ultimately it joined the rest of the failed media extenders that came and went around the same time, all of them meant to let consumers stream audio, video, and photos from a Windows PC. Many consumers just opted for a Microsoft Xbox 360 instead, which was close in price and offered most of the same features for the Windows Media Center experience, plus it was a popular video game console.
Umi (pronounced YOU-me) is one of Cisco's consumer businesses that will avoid Flip's fate.
The Umi HD telepresence service--which is made up of a Cisco-issued HD camera with an embedded microphone, a set-top box, and a remote, and requires an HDTV connected the Web--allows people to make video conference calls using their TV.
While the product won't live on in its current incarnation, the main elements will be wrapped into Cisco's telepresence offering for business customers.