First Cisco buried the Flip.  Now Kodak is getting ready to deep-six its entire camera line, including its pocket video cameras.  Somewhere out there, Sony is throwing its Bloggie division a great big party.

Various news outlets are reporting that the fledgling former photographic heavyweight Kodak is about to jettison its entire camera division, marking the second major player in the pocket video camera arena to completely jump out of the game.  This caused me to wonder whether the pocket-sized variety of HD video cameras are falling out of favor with the public and social media pros in general.  I think it just may be.

Kodak’s decision to get out of the camera business seems to be a mix between demand, competition and their overall bankruptcy proceedings in general.  There’s no doubt that other devices were starting to eat into the standalone video camera market.  My phone can shoot HD video.  My iPad can shoot HD video.  Most point-and-shoot still cameras do at least 720p video now.  Hell, my crock pot has a touch screen, so it’s probably not that long before I can log in from work and monitor my stew via a built in camera.  Fewer people feel they need a dedicated video camera these days.

That said, it’s a shame that so many social media “pros” are settling for the camera they’ve got on them rather than one that produces better results.  I’ve long been a fan of Kodak’s Zi8 pocket HD camera.  For those who didn’t want to plunk down a lot of money on a higher-quality camera, the Zi8 was the perfect cheap alternative.  It produced good quality video, it was inexpensive, it featured a microphone jack for better quality sound and was ultra-portable.  I even made it part of my first “essential social media video kit” last March.  Since then, they’ve replaced it with the “Playtouch” (or unofficially known as the Zi10), but it featured poor quality video, added an unnecessary touch screen and downplayed the well-rounded features that made the Zi8 so good.  They also jumped into the camera market no one asked for – waterproof HD cameras like their PlaySport.  There’s a reason why you can buy them by the palette at Sam’s Club these days.

So, yes, the days of the pocket HD video camera may just be numbered.  I’ve never gotten to do a hands-on demo of Sony’s Bloggie line, but I’ve never considered them a serious contender for use by businesses or agencies for social media.  There’s no microphone jack available, and they seem to be struggling to satisfy every niche of the low-cost video market.  The 3D Bloggie still boggles my mind.  There are many other manufacturers out there turning out pocket cameras, but none I’d ever come close to recommending.  I think the fad might be over.  It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get your hands on one.  There’s a glut of Flips on the market even now, well past its own demise.  I felt somewhat validated in recommending the Zi8 for so long after I found that people were starting to sell them online to the tune of $250 or more, which is far higher than the $99 average price it went for towards the end of its life.  (As of this writing, some new ones are listed by third-party sellers on Amazon as high as $400-500!  Even used one are starting north of $150!)

I’m preparing to do an update to my “essential social media video kit,” in the coming weeks, and with Kodak’s exit from the market, I’m finding it more difficult to come up with a low-cost standalone video camera worth recommending.  I’ve always preferred that social media pros and agencies make the leap to a slightly pricier but far better “camcorder” alternative like Canon’s superior Vixia line.  Now Sony’s starting to get it if the specs on their line of lower-priced consumer-grade camcorders stays intact.  They have a few models on the market with microphone jacks and impressive features, though their lowest-priced models seem a bit steeper than Canon’s.  I’d look for one of these camcorder-style models to topline my updated video kit in the near future.