iPhone 3GS - Flip Killer?

My sister-in-law just bought a Kodak Zi6, and she loves it. The 720p clips work well in iMovie, the camera is small and incredibly easy to use. She paid about $140 for it. More importantly, she gets the camera out a lot more than she did before, meaning that all kinds of great family stuff is preserved. She considered the Flip, too, and settled on the Zi6 mostly because it was cheaper for the features.

The success of these compact video cameras has everything to do with simplicity and size. They're easy to shoot with and easy to carry. According to David Pogue, Flip's little camera took 13 percent of the camcorder market just one year after launch. As the old saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you.

But today Apple announced the new iPhone, called the iPhone 3GS. Among its new features is video recording. Not only can you record video, but you can edit it (notice the thumbnail editing, a la iMovie) and upload your clips to the world via YouTube and MobileMe, or just send them to someone via email or MMS. All on the phone.

If I was Cisco (who bought Pure Digital, makers of the Flip) or Kodak, I'd be feeling pretty anxious about all of this. After all, with the exception of no HD recording, the iPhone's video abilities look pretty dang impressive: auto-white-balance, auto-focus, in-device editing, geotagging, and in-device uploading. All of that, plus an iPhone, for $200.

True, the iPhone 3GS only shoots in VGA (640x480, presumably), but so does the low-end Flip Ultra, which has an MSRP of $149 and just 4GBs of storage. Assuming that you'll use 8GB for apps, music, and the like, the iPhone 3GS leaves another 8GBs for you to record video.

Now, there's a lot we don't know. Actual quality, file sizes, and the like could make or break this feature. But even if the iPhone's video quality needs improving, you can count on Apple improving it. I wouldn't be surprised next year to see a 32GB iPhone that shoots 720p. (Samsung already has a mobile phone that can do this.)

If it's true that the best camera is the one you have with you, then the entire camcorder industry should get a pretty good little shakeup from the new iPhone. No doubt, a year from now Cisco, Creative Labs, and Kodak will have new editions for their Flip, Vado, and Z series, but they won't be throwing in an iPhone to go with them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Turns out that the iPhone 3GS is theoretically capable of shooting at 720p http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/06/19/apples_iphone_3g_s_sports_chip_with_720p_hd_video_capabilities.html

I agree that Flip and others should be scared. I made the point to them a while ago that mobile phones had the opportunity to beat them
- I guess simplicity remains the selling point.