Posted by: Rob Hof on July 30, 2008
Like more than 1 million other people, I’m a fan of the Flip, the little camcorder that, on paper, looks like it should suck. It has almost no advanced features that tech-obsessed folks think they need. Some of them, in fact, are downright livid about why people would prefer fewer functions.
No matter. Market watcher NPD Research just announced that the Flip is the best-selling camcorder in the U.S. as of June.
Here’s why—and I think this list provides useful lessons to purveyors of tech gear, who nonetheless will probably continue to ignore them in their endless quest to one-up each other.
1. It’s cheap. Starting at about $100, it’s affordable to almost anyone who’s at all inclined to shoot video in the first place.
2. It’s easy. Three buttons: Record, play back, erase. That’s it. No manual necessary. And uploading to YouTube is a snap, or actually a flip—press a release button and out springs the USB connector. The software installs automatically.
3. The video’s more than good enough. It won’t match a regular camcorder’s, but it looks just fine on a standard TV. And the Flip works surprisingly well in low light—better, notes one commenter below, than camcorders costing much more. This is really important, more than most people realize.
4. It’s small. It fits in just about any pocket. Maybe just as important, it’s unobtrusive, unlike most camcorders, which look kind of like miniature satellites spying on you.
5. It uses regular, AA batteries. Easy to replace and, even more important, no brick for recharging. (Except the new, smaller Mino, which uses an internal battery.)
6. It’s fun!
I don’t mean this to be an ad for the Flip. It’s far from perfect (optical zoom is something I’d pay extra for, and the new Mino model is getting a little pricey for what it is). But it’s refreshing when you run across a device that just works with no fuss. You’d think more tech companies would figure this out after all these years watching Apple eat their lunch.