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Sony's Webbie cam follows Pure Digital bid

The Japanese electronics maker tried to buy the Flip Video maker before making its own version of the inexpensive camcorder.

LAS VEGAS--Before making the new inexpensive mini camcorder it unveiled at CES Wednesday, Sony tried to purchase the category leader, Pure Digital.

Sony Electronics President Stan Glasgow on Wednesday told CNET News that the vastly popular Flip Video camera made by Pure Digital came onto Sony's radar almost two years ago. Glasgow said he knew he wanted Sony to have a product in the category and talked to San Francisco-based Pure Digital about a possible acquisition six months ago.

Without saying how much Pure Digital was asking, Glasgow said it was much more than Sony wanted to pay. The two companies discussed several possible business scenarios, but none worked out.

And even before that, though the U.S. division of Sony really wanted an inexpensive mini camcorder for the U.S. market, the company's Japanese engineers didn't really see the utility of the product category.

Since neither scenario worked out, Sony, a leader in higher-end camera equipment, finally came out its own version of Pure Digital's Flip Mino camera, which uploads video directly to the Web via a USB port.

The Webbie does 1080p MPEG-4 video and shoots in 5 megapixels. The camera will be available in March for about $170.