The iPhone can do almost everything the Flip can, and in some cases, even more. In spite of this, tech and camcorder industry analysts don’t believe it’s a threat. Ironically, they say that many consumers are attracted to the Flip precisely because it lacks the iPhone’s panoply of functions and add-ons.
“Much of the strength of the Flip comes from its simplicity and dedicated purpose,” explains Ross Rubin of market researcher NPD group. While Rubin acknowledges the advantages the iPhone’s video capture has over Flip, he argues that “these may not be as important or could be confusing to many Flip users that eschew sophistication in their devices.”
Despite the seeming trend of convergence toward a single multipurpose device, analysts claim many consumers still prefer electronics dedicated to one task. “The notion of the hybrid cannibal device always pops up,” says Chris Chute of research firm IDC. “The consumer doesn’t say to themselves, ‘I’m going to buy one device that does everything okay.'”
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a number of videos shot entirely with the new iPhone 3GS and the results are typically stunning. But what’s interesting about the Flip v. iPhone debate is that the reason why analysts are predicting the Flip can withstand an iPhone onslaught is precisely the same reason that fueled the iPod’s success – namely, being able to do one thing remarkably well.
For the time being, no one is going to purchase an iPhone over a Flip camcorder solely for the video recording, but if Apple refreshes the iPod Touch this September, as has been rumored, then the iPod Touch suddenly becomes a more viable competitor.
Also, it’s important to point out that devices with every function under the sun tend to fail because they end up being mediocre in the long run. So it’s not really about consumers being averse to multi-tasking devices, but rather the fact that they don’t flock to devices that only do an okay job at many tasks. As an example, take a look at all the MP3 players that failed to dethrone the iPod. Many of those players were more feature-rich than the iPod, but never caught on with consumers because they were ultimately too confusing. Apple is known for making products that are easy to use, and with that being the case, the iPod Touch is in a great position to knock off the Flip in the coming months.