For the last few years Flip Video has sold millions of its pocket camcorders, but it's days of dominating the market may be numbered as Apple has introduced HD video capture to the iPhone 4, essentially turning every new iPhone into a Flip camcorder.
Here at CNET we've been waiting for this day to arrive and only thought it would be a matter of time before Apple brought HD video to the iPhone after it added standard-definition video capture to the iPhone 3GS last year. Like the Flip Video Mino HD and Ultra HD, the iPhone will capture 720p video. But as we're apt to say about any of these pocket camcorders, video quality isn't nearly as good as what you'd expect from a "true" HD camcorder that features a superior image sensor and optics along with such as features as optical zoom rather than the almost useless digital zoom.
Companies such as Kodak have put out worthy competitors to the Flip Video models, but Flip has managed to hold on to the lion's share of the pocket camcorder space by putting out products that are arguably the simplest to use and offer the most user friendly software. However, Apple is the king of the user-friendly experience and will soon begin selling iMovie for iPhone, a $4.99 app that's a pocket version of the company's consumer video-editing software.
At least initially, Flip should be OK if only because not everybody is going to go out there and buy an iPhone 4 tomorrow. But if Apple brings HD video capture to the next-generation iPod Touch this fall, consumers will most assuredly gravitate toward a thinner, lighter--and much more feature rich--device like the iPod Touch that won't cost much more than current Flip HD models, which retail for $150-$279.
Whether Apple's video quality matches Flip's we can't say yet, but if it's anywhere close, the smaller form factor of the iPhone 4 and a potentially HD video-enabled iPod Touch (or other smartphones) would make it much easier to overlook any performance flaws.
How does Flip respond? Well, it had to know this day was quickly approaching and hopefully has some sexy products up its sleeve that deliver even better video quality for less than $200. If it doesn't, all we can say is that Flip's founders look awfully smart selling out to Cisco last year for $590 million. They had to know this day was near, too; we're just not sure why Cisco didn't.Check out the video below, which includes a demo of iMovie for iPhone.