Iconic, best-selling digital video cameras snap last pictures

Cisco has pulled the plug on its popular handheld Flip digital video cameras, the top-selling camcorder brand in the US, stating consumer cameras are no longer part of the company’s overall strategy.

The decision to kill its Flip camcorders was made as Cisco moves away from consumer electronics products and towards enterprise solutions.

"We are making key, targeted moves as we align operations in support of our network-centric platform strategy," said John Chambers, Cisco chairman and CEO in an April 12 statement.

"As we move forward, our consumer efforts will focus on how we help our enterprise and service provider customers optimize and expand their offerings for consumers, and help ensure the network's ability to deliver on those offerings."

The news has come as a surprise to many in the industry. Market research firm NPD Group told All Things Digital that Cisco's Flip division was "far and away the leading consumer video camera company," despite seeing its market share drop in recent years. 

According to NPD Group, Flip held 21.6 percent of the digital camcorder market ahead of Sony (20.9 percent) and Kodak (12.8) in February 2011.

Looking back just a few years ago, the sub-$200 portable video cameras were an affordable, compact alternative to the bulkier, more expensive camcorder solutions on the market.

But the launch of all-in-one, video-capable smartphones had a hand in eroding the company’s market dominance.

The arrival of devices like Apple’s video recording iPods have also played their part.

When Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s video recording capable iPod Nano in 2009, he marketed it as a Flip alternative with more features and a $149 price point.

"Why buy a cheap camcorder if you could buy an iPod Nano that shot video, too?" asked Wired magazine's Brian X. Chen, adding that "When iPhones and Android phones began shipping with decent cameras for shooting stills, the Flip seemed excessive. When phones got HD video recording, the Flip was downright redundant."