Consumer Confidential: Farewell, Flip; Kindles with ads; GM recalls Cruze
--Cisco Systems is pulling the plug on its Flip camcorders. The computer networking giant says it's shutting down the division as part of ongoing efforts to streamline its business. The closing of Flip operations will mean the loss of about 550 jobs and about $300 million spent across the first half of Cisco's fiscal year. Cisco bought Pure Digital Technologies, the maker of Flip, for $590 million in 2009. The camera line had been a popular seller among consumers for its easy-to-use controls and swift ability to get video online. Pocket-sized camcorders from Sony, Kodak and Polaroid hit the market over the last couple of years, due in part to the Flip's success. Though Cisco will stop producing the Flip, it will still support its FlipShare video-sharing services "with a transition plan." In other words, they'll fob the Flip off on someone else.
--In the market for a Kindle? Amazon says it's dropping the price again, but this time there's a catch: on-screen ads. The online retailer says the new "Kindle with Special Offers" will cost $114 -- $25 less than the lowest-priced Kindle now available -- and include advertisements on the bottom of the device's home page and on its screen savers. Amazon will start shipping the new Kindle on May 3, and it will also be sold in Target and Best Buy stores. Amazon has consistently lowered the price of the Kindle since it released the first version of the device for $399 in 2007, though this is the first time it's doing so while including ads on the e-reader. The company believes this will make the Kindle available to more people. But whether people really wants ads with their literature is another question.
--Heads up: General Motors is recalling about 2,100 Chevy Cruze small cars after a steering wheel came off in a driver's hands. Seriously. There have been no crashes or injuries related to the problem, GM says. The possibly affected vehicles are for the model year 2011. GM believes the incident represents a one-time-only problem and won't affect other vehicles. The Cruze was launched overseas in late 2009 and in the United States in September 2010. It replaced the Chevy Cobalt in the U.S. market and other models overseas. More than 100,000 Cruzes have been built since the start of production in the United States.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: Cisco is closing up the Flip. Credit: David Campbell