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.”

  • I’ve got to say that I love my Flip and get plenty of use out of it. It is truly phenomenal how easy technology is getting to use…and share. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it just keeps on rolling.

    My webtop (web-based desktop) is another very cool technology that I have become addicted to. Not quite sure how I made it without the Flip and the webtop!

  • I agree with Jeff. Flip is an amazing product. It totally simplifies the way we shoot and share video. As a parent of young children and an “on-the-go” family, our Flip is an incredibly easy way to share videos with family and friends. As a business tool I use it to share product comments with our suppliers in China and to post customer service assistance videos. SO many uses and so simple. Its pretty amazing when a product so simple as Flip makes people like me (and 2 million others) fanatical…in love with their product…pretty inspiring indeed.

  • and on the other end of the spectrum (pun?), i’ve linked to 39 full time engineers at ONE mid-market station that are evidently pretty pissed that technology is chipping away at their profession. (click my id)


  • i’ve also linked to word that the denver newspaper agency is purportedly laying off 200 more folks since the rocky mountian news has closed. this will result in it “only” taking 850 people to turn out a daily.


    the irony is that the folks doing the reporting on the layoffs are they themselves who were only weeks ago.

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  • Kyle

    I’d like to hear more about what Bild is doing and the results to date. Very interesting model; although sounds like CNN’s iReport? He mentioned it revold arounds ads though. Any idea who is making the camera for them? Have to search Alibaba…..

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  • Jeff–
    Great story on Bild and the knock-off Flip phone. Your execution of the story — a blog using two video embeds whose subject is the very technology being used to capture the interview — is a perfect example of where journalism is headed. Sounds like Dieckmann’s idea about “user-generated advertising” (if he is aiming for what I imagine he might be) could also be the future of advertising as well.
    Very exciting — thanks.

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  • I love it… Low-tech overtakes hi-tech. What YouTube has done is to make low-quality video acceptable. It has changed the rules of the game. ‘Broadcast quality’ has been redefined.

    BTW – am I the only one to think the same thing needs to be done in computing…? I’d love a MacBook for the build-quality – but I simply dont need the hi-tech spec, since everything I do is browser-based! Someone tell Apple! Hi-tech hi-quality.

  • sorry last sentence should read

    hi-tech is not equal to hi-quality. the blog didnt like my greater than or lesser than symbols

  • great storry and such a good example for “making the customer your best advertiser”. BILD (with today 3 mio copys/day biggest newspaper in europe) as a brand has always been very close to the customer even before googleage. they were crowdsourcing long before the word existed at all.
    with BILD.de they are doing a very good job in crowdsourcing, not only pictures and videos, there is much more. the rest of old media should watch them closely and try to learn. with vado they brought the users “elegant organisation” … well done herr dieckmann

  • Ironically enough, I blogged on this same concept, albeit it a bit more fleshed out:

    Flip Video News Network: Crowd-Sourcing meets CNN

    Check it out if interested.


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  • I bought the Flip after you wrote about the great idea of Diekmann, but I was really disappointed of the bad voice recording of that tool ;-0

  • Sorry for the mistake, that was of course not the Flip I bought but that other camera called “Vado”, that has this bad sound recording. Please delete the above comment

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