For Flip fans, on top of devastation, tragedy

Cisco kills market-leading consumer camcorder on eve of its greatest moment

It's always a mistake to develop an emotional attachment to an electronic device. You put yourself at the mercy of the manufacturer's whims as well as market dynamics.

Such is the sad plight of several million owners of Flip video cameras who are devastated -- and, in many cases, angry -- at Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) for shutting down a unit that makes the most popular camcorder in the U.S. (with 35% market share).

Just check out these comments from hardened professional journalists:

I loved the Flip. I love that it never, ever, let me down. I loved that this startup company created something that changed the world, and ultimately reaped the rewards in popularity and sales.

Unfortunately, it also reaped the rewards that come from selling to a megalithic corporation like Cisco.

-- David Pogue, New York Times

“I'm so depressed. I'm in mourning ... When I see [Cisco CEO] John Chambers I’m going to smack him in the head.”

-- Kara Swisher, All Things Digital

"#$%%^ Cisco. Cisco has no passion for Flip. None whatsoever."

-- SFGate blogger Zennie Abraham

Their words reflect the feelings of many Flip owners who feel betrayed by Cisco.

Well, if dedicated Flip owners felt betrayed before, wait'll they get a load of this: According to Pogue and Abraham, Cisco was ready to unveil the greatest Flip camcorder of all! Pogue writes:

That new Flip that the product manager showed me was astonishing. It was called FlipLive, and it added one powerful new feature to the standard Flip: live broadcasting to the Internet.

That is, when you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot, the entire world can see what you’re filming. You can post a link to Twitter or Facebook, or send an e-mail link to friends. Anyone who clicks the link can see what you’re seeing, in real time — thousands of people at once.

That does sound pretty cool.

For his part, Abraham writes that the new Flip was supposed to be wi-fi enabled, which would allow users to upload directly to YouTube and elsewhere online.

I don't know whether Pogue and Abraham are talking about the same device, but either way, Cisco was ready to unveil an exciting next-gen Flip on April 13.

Except the day before, Cisco announced it was killing the Flip. Which, had they gone ahead with Wednesday's event, would have been a real buzz-kill.

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