Flip’s final words: crowdsourcing to the bitter end
Nobody saw this one coming. Flip video, the darling gadget of mobile journos and digi-documentarians, is dead, shut down by its under-pressure owner Cisco. We are morbidly fascinated here with the death of brands in this era of social networking. The death of Flip is the spookiest we’ve yet seen.
If you’ve ever wondered just how well briefed employees were about their job prospects just before upper management pulls the plug, here’s a chilling example. On Monday, Flip video’s social media team rolled out a little crowdsourcing initiative, asking its 350,000-plus followers on Facebook and Twitter to think big, to help them design the next camera.
The meme starts innocently enough on Monday with suggestions for Hello Kitty, Winnie the Pooh and even Lady Gaga styled handcams. But about midway down you get to shocked questions. “Are you guys going under? wtf,” one incredulous fan posts. From here, the mood of the meme turns blue.
Flip’s Facebook team, which no doubt muddling through these days with a lump in their throat, have yet to formally respond. On Twitter, they did manage to muster a we-love-you-guys final adieu.
How does this then compare with other brands who get the axe in the middle of the night? Well, let’s go to Microsoft, which has some experience lately in both killing off brands and in assuring the public that it plans to keep some of its troubled brands alive. In the latter category is Zune. Last month, the tech press was writing the music player’s obituary. Microsoft was quick to say not true, and seemed to contain the conspiracy theories.
The news with Kin wasn’t such a happy ending. Microsoft killed off the Kin smart phone last July in a move that stunned the tech community for its hatchet-like suddenness. The handset was only available for 48 days despite being billed as the perfect device for on-the-go social-network-addicted-twentysomethings market. A big market, to be sure. Still, we managed to find 175 or so Kin mourners.
At some point Flip will have to address the news of its demise. The Facebook community is still alive after all. Perhaps once staff get over the shock of its demise. And of course Cisco too is saying nothing to its 150,000 fans.