Can the new iPhone compete with the Flip camcorder?

Wed, Jul 15, 2009

Analysis, News

Fortune writes:

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.


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. HD Boy Says:

    HD video, HD video, HD video.

    The iPod Touch/iPhone juggernaut will be in a position to knock off the Flip Ultra when Apple adds 720p HD video, 64- and 128GB of storage (or a built-in SD card slot) and 802.11n WiFi to these devices. I expected the iPhone 3GS model to include these features and was disappointed. Clearly, Apple added standard-definition video instead — so that the company would have a low cost video model to include in the product line down the road.

  2. pats Says:

    @ HD Boy
    You have me confused. The Flip Ultra records at VGA 640 X 480 and has 4GB of onboard memory. The ultra HD has 8GB of memory and records at 1280 x 720. Why would an Apple product need 64GB or 128GB of storage to compete. The base 3GS has 16GB. While I would love 128GB of storage I would not want to pay the extra $200 and space.

  3. John Says:

    The Flip Video and similar products will have their place in the market for special applications. Overall they will lose share to video capable phones because a lot of people who bought such a phone will be satisfied with that feature and not feel the need to seek out yet another portable device.

    Once the iPhone and others start recording 720P that pretty much shuts down the general market for Flip.

    How many people go to third parties for a car stereo or car air conditioner? Not many because the ones that come with the car work well enough. Same idea.

  4. Victor Panlilio Says:

    Just got a Flip Ultra HD because I’ve had my iPhone 3G only 8 months and it doesn’t make sense to get a 3GS. Best part is that I can hand the Flip to my wife or nine-year old son and they can use it because it’s so simple, produces decent HD in low light, and I don’t worry about something bad happening to my iPhone.

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