Flipping for the Flip

On Peter Day’s always-informative business show on the BBC, Cisco’s John Chambers said earlier this month that a downturn is a chance to go into new lines of business. Buying the maker of the consumer hit video camera Flip is certainly is that. I think it could be genius. It’s about new ways to communicate easily, new networks. The Flip has many surprising uses.

Last year at Davos, I showed it to Kai Diekmann, editor of Bild, the giant tabloid (in spirit if not in paper size) in Germany, and he lunged for it, saying he simply had to have it. Bild had been doing amazing things with MMS on mobile phones, turnking all of Germany into paparazzi by having them send photos to the number 1414; Bild pays for photos it uses. You should use video, I said to Diekmann. We are, he said. But ahve you seen the Flip? I asked and pulled it out. This was that scene:

I know from Bild staffers that Dieckmann dispatched them to buy a bunch of Flips in the U.S. (they weren’t available in Europe) and out of that came a fascinating business and news move: Dieckmann went to another manufacturer and created a Bild-branded video camera just like the Flip. The paper offered them for sale for 69 Euros. In five weeks, he sold more than 21,000 of them. Note well that the software on the camera defaults to sending video to Bild. So now the paper has thousands of cameramen all over Germany. Here’s that story, recorded on my Flip from this year’s Davos:

Note also his hint at “user-generated advertising.”