Whether it’s the Walkman, Photoshop or the GoPro, every now and again a product comes along that so perfectly epitomizes the form, that its name is taken to represent the entire category of products (whether its maker likes it or not). For a couple of years, the Flip Video pocket camcorder was just such a device. The dead giveaway being that you can probably picture what I mean by ‘Flip Video’ but not by the phrase ‘pocket camcorder.’
In a manner similar to GoPro, the Flip wasn’t necessarily the most technologically innovative product, but it represented a novel arrangement of components in such a way that it heralded a new class of devices. Rather than making you carry around a full-sized camcorder, the Flip squeezed a small sensor, a battery and some memory together in a genuinely pocketable package.
The first units captured VGA resolution, which wasn’t as undesirable as it now sounds, since standard (1950s) definition TV still ruled the world in the mid 2000s. In fact the Flip Video grew out of a device so simple that could only be used once, with the expectation that its output would be transferred to DVD (which, for all their ‘digital quality,’ are essentially ‘widescreen’ standard definition discs).
A video camera, in your pocket!
In the classic ‘it only has to be good enough‘ fashion that Allison highlighted earlier this week, the Flip was a raging success. The first version, launched in 2007, captured a claimed 13% of the total camcorder market within a year of launch and for a while they seemed like the only video devices anyone was buying.