Taulbee Jackson wrote a blog post on April 7th about Google’s recent investment into high quality video content for YouTube. Taulbee’s post was a great take on this investment and its meaning for search, but people who know me understand that I think the act of optimizing a site for search is the equivalent of securing a hastily constructed building against a Tornado.
In my opinion, if built correctly a site will be found. Getting the site found for what you’d like it to be found for is a matter of becoming a quality website that is worth a visitor’s time.
This post is not about search though, this post is about video. Specifically the recent news that Cisco is discontinuing a product that it bought two years ago, and how that news coupled with the aforementioned news from Google is indeed a very big deal.
The Flip revolutionized consumer video production. I received the Flip Video Ultra for a Christmas gift in 2007 from my wife. I very distinctly remember being dumbfounded by it – not only was I stunned by it’s simplicity, but also by the fact that I knew NOTHING about it. Fancying myself a bit of a gadget geek, I had hit a bit of a slump in my ability to keep up with tech after the birth of my son – so I was truly impressed by my wife’s choice. It was small, portable, and just plain cool.
The Flip was a great tool for capturing moments. I used the small push button camera to capture video of my son, our neighborhood, and all sorts of fun little things. Unfortunately it was also misappropriated as the half lit torch of prosumers, hobby, and hack videographers everywhere. With my first Flip, NEVER did it cross my mind to use this camera for my job. NEVER did I think “640 by 480 pixels, mono sound and a backlit head shot is totally going to make my CEO look rad on YouTube!”
Now, I realize that not everyone knows the subtleties of video compression schemes or frame rates and sizes. What everyone does know, but conveniently forgot in the last few years, is there is a difference between video of their kids playing on a slip and slide and videos of their brand messages. The years of 2007-2011 saw anyone with an eye for quality video living in a hell I could have never imagined.
Don’t get me wrong. The Flip product line matured very well, and as the company introduced smaller form factors with higher definition recording capabilities, I found myself occasionally using footage from it, and the team at Raidious has even deployed the Flip in quick capture scenarios. I believe strongly in the right tool for the right job, and while I have quite a few rants on the misappropriation of technology – the inappropriate application of the Flip to corporate and brand video had been hard to argue when consultants, speakers, and other short sighted social media specialists started writing blog posts and speaking at conferences about how easy making viral videos could be.
I can image it quite vividly, coming from the speaker in the sport coat and jeans – “It’s easy! Just buy a Flip and start talking to it! Your brand will explode into a social media ROI viral dynamic of user generated twitter SEO resulting in a zeitgeist.”
But now the Flip is dead – long live video on the internet!
As the aforementioned blog posts rot away in link bait hell, the Flip sits in purgatory. The marketing folks that learned how easy it could be to create videos are now caught trying to figure out what is next.
I admit that there have been some great videos produced and shared using the Flip. I know that this camera helped usher forth an era of videos, pod-casts, and other great content from social media gurus, not for profits, bands – some of which was created by yours truly. I appreciate that and I think it is cool, I do.
My recommendation is that companies take a long hard look at their video strategy, then call us for help. If you don’t call us, at least start thinking about how your video is going to stand out from the videos of the next few years, and how your brand is going to compete against YouTube’s professionally produced videos that it WILL be featuring over yours.
The Flip was the disposable party camera of the 2000s – remember those? I’d be willing to bet that young couples didn’t use the disposable for wedding portraits, but for the photos of the guests. I am hopeful that the death of the flip means one less excuse for bad video. As Google puts their money where their mouth is, I look forward to the internet of the next decade – an internet where sites like YouTube are full of professionally produced, high quality content that people want to watch, not full of your friend’s drinking at the reception.
Use your cell phone for that.
For a great article on how the Flip could have been saved, check out this great article by Peter at GDGT.