Does Cisco Systems' move to ditch its Flip line of mini video cameras signal that consumers are growing tired of these pocket-sized movie makers?
The networking company set plans this week to get out of the pocket video camera business as part of a companywide restructuring.
Industry watchers are blaming smartphones, most of which are now equipped to record HD video, for what they call the pocket video camera's waning appeal. (While the Flip is relatively inexpensive, about $150, smartphones offer HD video capabilities for free.)But according to research from the Consumer Electronics Association, more mini video cameras -- not fewer -- are being shipped to retailers, and sales are on the rise. Unit sales of mini video cameras to U.S. retailers grew from 4.5 million in 2009 to 5.7 million in 2010, the CEA reports. And unit sales are expected to grow even further this year to 6.5 million units sold.
At the same time, factory-to-retail sales of mini video cameras were $1.4 billion in 2010, up from $1.1 billion in 2009. And sales are expected to rise to $1.5 billion this year, the CEA projects.
"More people are buying them," Colleen Lerro, communications specialist with the CEA, told WalletPop.
Unlike the old-fashioned video cameras that were big and heavy, these mini cameras are "easy to use, fit in your pocket, and are a fun and quick way to capture memories."
And while the Flip dominates the pocket video camera market, there are plenty of other versions available from companies such as Kodak and Sony, among others.
So what about smartphones stealing mini camcorders' thunder, as people look to perform multiple tasks on a single device? It's true, Lerro says, "that people are looking to do more with less." But while consumers' consumer electronics tastes are fickle, she believes mini video cameras still hold their own unique appeal.
"There are still more features [to use on a mini video camera] than a smartphone," Lerro says. "[We'll see how] things play out in the next couple of years."
Cisco Ditches Flip Camera Biz: What's the Future for Mini Moviemakers?