Thursday, March 19, 2009

Flip sold for $500M+

See this post on allthingsd.

I'm happy for the flip guys - I have bought one and the gf has been gifted two (including the one I bought). I think the camera was very innovative and they did a good job making and marketing them.

I also think that Cisco bought the wrong thing at the wrong time. My prediction is that the Flip brand (or whatever Cisco rebrands this as) gets wiped out over the next 3 years. The reasoning here is the following:
Flip at one point was the disruptor in the market - they marketed a device that did not do stills at all, or poorly and was not a competitor to entrenched still camera models like those made by canon or kodak.
Flip was not a very good camcorder either because it did not come with optical zoom, lots and lots of buttons that nobody but the real pros can figure out, and generally looked like it had poorer construction.
It had two things going for it: it did HD and it was cheap.

Classic innovator's dilemma here - a cheap disruptor that is unappealing to any but the lowest segment of the market. Moreover, this is a section of the market that the incumbents are more than happy to get rid of - they most likely are making tons of money selling medium to high end HD cameras and there really isn't a developed market for the Flip.

This is all good stuff for the Flip people. They survived, they did a good job and completely changed the landscape.

However, now we get to a point where the sustaining innovators are catching up - the still cameras which used to take mediocre (at best) video are now starting to do HD. And they're getting cheaper. The Flip may be the cheapest HD camera around, but not by much. This means that its market share will dwindle unless they can continue to disrupt the market - and its hard to see where. Moreover, Nikon and Canon and Kodak are the experts when it comes to making lenses and other things that people start to care about when the price point is the same. The Flip cannot compete with this and Cisco does not employ optics people.

The Flip guys did the right thing by flipping the company over. My prediction is that Cisco writes this off their books in 3 years.

** Of course, I have no data to back up any of the assertions I'm making, but you knew this already :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

[books] Empire

Empire Empire by Niall Ferguson

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
A history of the British Empire from an unabashed imperialist. A very different perspective on things from what I learned as child from my Indian history books - a complete reversal of good guys and bad guys for one.

Fergusons explores the economic basis of the empire - its start in the Carribean and the West Indies and the rise to power of the Royal Navy. He makes an important note that the Empire did not start out through political means - it was not wars of annexation by a power hungry monarch that drove the British Empire; rather it was the hunger for trade that drove the merchants to various parts of the world. The merchants needed two things -

1. Security of their selves, their markets and their trade routes.

2. Creation of new markets, by force if necessary (and usually).

And thus the creation of the strongest naval force in the world - the Royal Navy had 44 captital ships and the rest of the world combined had 42!

Also tied into this mix is Christian Evangelical zeal, but for the most part, according to Ferguson, this did not form a basis for expansion as much as trade did.

He makes no attempt to euphamise the bloodiness of the formation and maintainence of the Empire - from the Carribean to Africa, to India and the East Asia, the Empire was marked by periods of bloody, violent struggle with the better equiped British typically mowing down scores of ill-equiped natives.

His most interesting theories concern the fall of the empire. He believes it was not so much that the empire crumbled from within, as other big empires (German, Russian, Japanese and later American) came in to conflict with the British and forced it to disintegrate. In the aftermath of the two Great Wars, Britain was completely bankrupt and dependent upon its colonies and the Americans forced them to disintegrate as part of bailing them out. He does make an interesting point that while the rise of Empire spanned many centuries, the fall was surprisingly short - less than Churchill's lifespan. Churchill was a reporter at the Boer War (still an Empire in rising) and presided over the loss of India and much of Africa.

A prescient quote for the Americans (who may not find this book as interesting as those living in the Commonwealth) - "Once Britain had been the world's banker. Now she owed foreign creditors more than $40 billion. The foundations of the Empire had been economic, and those foundations had simply been eaten up by the costs of war."

Highly recommended for peoples (or who's grand peoples) were the subjects of the crown.

View all my reviews.