Cisco Releases Flip SlideHD, Newest High-Definition Camera

Cisco has rolled out a new Flip digital camera, the SlideHD, which records up to four hours of HD footage and splits apart to reveal a 3-inch widescreen for instantly watching video. The SlideHD's videos are compatible with applications ranging from QuickTime Player to iTunes. Cisco CEO John Chambers has publicly stated that the 2009 acquisition of Pure Digital Technologies, which created the Flip, was to take advantage of the increasing trend towards video-based communication for both consumers and the enterprise. Cisco's quarterly reports indicate that the Flip has been selling well, despite the rise of all-in-one devices such as the iPod Nano.

Cisco added a new Flip digital video camera to its lineup, the SlideHD, which records up to four hours of high-definition footage and snaps open to offer a 3-inch widescreen for instant viewing. In addition, the $279.99 unit offers 12 hours of storage for videos and still images. The SlideHD represents yet another addition to a product lineup that Cisco's executives see as integral to the company's leveraging of the increasingly video-happy communication and collaboration market.

As with previous Flip cameras, recharging the battery is a matter of connecting the device's USB arm to a PC, which will also launch the preloaded FlipShare software and allow videos to be downloaded and edited. The SlideHD's H.264 HD videos are compatible with applications ranging from Windows Media Player and QuickTime Player to iTunes. The device's outer shell can be customized with a variety of patterns and images, including the users' own.

Cisco originally acquired Pure Digital Technologies, creator of the Flip Video device, in March 2009 for $590 million in stock and $15 million in retention-based equity incentives. At the time, some two million Flip Video units had been sold in the United States since 2006, and its newest offering included the Flip MinoHD, capable of shooting video at 720p resolution that could be displayed in a widescreen 16-9 format.

"Was [the purchase of Pure Digital] a consumer acquisition?" Cisco CEO John Chambers asked the audience during a June 2009 speech at the company's Partner Summit in Boston. "You betcha. Was it an enterprise acquisition? Oh yeah."

In Chambers' vision, the lines between the enterprise and consumer spheres will inevitably blur, with collaboration and communication becoming increasingly video-based, and devices such as the Flip inevitably playing a role in that evolving paradigm. During that Boston speech, he used a Flip to record customers talking about products, before displaying that video to a remote audience via Telepresence.

Despite suggestions that the rise of all-in-one devices, including the iPod Nano, could eventually result in the demise of dedicated devices such as handheld digital recorders, sales of the Flip rose from $50 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2009 to $130 million during the same period a year later. Cisco has also enjoyed growth in other areas, including customers for its ASR 1000 core router and UCS (Unified Computing System). The Flip, though, represents the company's attempt to demonstrate its ability to spread into areas beyond its traditional core business of enterprise networking.

"You are seeing an architectural play," Chambers said during a Feb. 3 earnings conference call with analysts and media.