Cisco signals market shift with Flip Video bid

Cisco has made public its intention to acquire Pure Digital, maker of the innovative Flip flash memory-based camcorder. Such a move would help the networking brand, which owns consumer Wi-Fi brand Linksys, in its bid to become a provider of consumer home entertainment music and video products.

The network gear maker will pay around $590 million to buy Flip Video in its entirety. Reports of the purchase come in the wake of earlier news that Cisco is downsizing.

When the Flip launched in the US two years ago, it shook up the consumer camcorder market by making video recording accessible, easy and very low-cost. It has gone on to sell more than two million units and was one of the best-seller gadgets of Christmas 2007.

In the US, the Flip is sold by a company known as Pure Digital, while in the UK the brand is known as Flip Video UK so as to avoid confusion with DAB digital radio maker Pure Digital.

“The acquisition of Pure Digital is key to Cisco’s strategy to expand our momentum in the media-enabled home and to capture the consumer market transition to visual networking,” said Ned Hooper, senior vice-president of Cisco’s Corporate Development and Consumer Groups.

“Pure Digital has revolutionised the way people capture and share video with Flip Video. This acquisition will take Cisco’s consumer business to the next level as the company develops new video capabilities and drives the next generation of entertainment and communication experiences.”

The Flip Video is credited with making video simple, accessible and fun.

The Flip Video camcorder is around the size of a mobile phone, has a single big red button initiate recording and stores footage on flash memory. It is known as the Flip because of the integrated USB connector that flips out from one edge of the gadget and allows direct attachment to a PC or laptop for video to be downloaded. The design broke the mould by costing less than $100.

Since its introduction, the Flip has been much admired and its approach emulated by the likes of Creative, Kodak and others.

The original Flip has since been joined by the Flip Mino and the Flip Ultra. Late last year Flip introduced a high-definition version of the device, the Flip HD. The Flip HD is set for a UK launch on 11th April, with gadget site Firebox already taking preorders for the 169 video recorder.

Recently, Cisco has moved to broaden its unified communications offerings. Earlier this year, Cisco also demonstrated its multi-room audio streaming devices at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

It is also working on a series of enterprise products designed to intelligently process video traffic in a network. Such products are about to launch in some European territorioes, with a UK launch likely late this year.

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