& cplSiteName &

Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese

Craig Matsumoto
6/1/2011

3:05 PM -- As we all know, Jonathan Kaplan's grand invention, the Flip camera, is being shut down by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). (See Cisco Flips on Consumer Business.)

Now he's starting a restaurant. So, this time, maybe it'll be Starbucks or McDonald's that will acquire him and shut him down.

Kaplan announced The Melt on Wednesday morning at All Things D's D9 conference, and it's also written up in Inside Scoop SF (some kind of restaurant-news offshoot of the San Francisco Chronicle). His plan is to develop a huge chain of no-lines restaurants serving grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.

The gimmick is in mobile technology, which suddenly makes this relevant to my actual job and therefore bloggable. You order via a smartphone (or a Web app at your desk, if you want to be all 2003 about it) without saying when or where you actually plan to pick up the food. If you flake out -- and gee, when does that ever happen in California? -- nothing happens.

But if you actually go get the food, you scan a QR card upon arrival, and they cook it up there.

First problem: Sure, there are no lines, but if it's crowded, you'll still have to wait for the food. The Melt will apparently get around that bottleneck with superfast, warp-speed cheese-grilling equipment. Even during a busy lunch rush, you're saved the time it takes to order -- which can be a big deal, as I've learned from countless times at coffeehouses standing behind a half-soy, half-decaf, double-sugar orderer.

On stage at D9, Kaplan refused to answer Kara Swisher's question about why Flip couldn't be sold off rather than killed. He wouldn't answer when she asked him last month, either.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

(12)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin
12/5/2012 | 5:03:42 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


Now I have to get all serious and wonder aloud: If this idea really works, and if it takes off so that the mobile model is adopted by other better-than-fast-food chains ... that's a lot of cashier jobs that evaporate.  They'll still need a cashier in case someone (gasp) insists on paying cash, or so I'd assume, but just one would probably suffice.


I know, the replacement of jobs by technology is nothing new. But sometimes the benefit to us (as opposed to the cost-savings to the company) seems minimal.

Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin
12/5/2012 | 5:03:42 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


I should hat-tip former colleague Mary Duan (@maryrduan on Twitter), who tweeted the SF link. Only later did I see that Kaplan had been at D9.

shygye75
shygye75
12/5/2012 | 5:03:40 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


I had to check the dateline on this -- looks like a story that should have run April 1 instead of June 1.

DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 5:03:37 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


I think this will be one of those only in the Valley stories, which is why USA Today and others jumped on it so quickly. In the rest of the US, I don't think the folks who frequent fast food joints are also likely to order food via their phones. Even at Chipotle, one of the first places to have a smartphone ordering app, they still offer fax forms and a separate line for carry-out orders. 

paolo.franzoi
paolo.franzoi
12/5/2012 | 5:03:36 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


 


I wonder if he is going to hire Kramer....remember Kosmo's idea of pizza that people make themselves at a restaurant?


But seriously, why would the app not just launch a website (see the article about fragmentation).


seven


 

BigBro
BigBro
12/5/2012 | 5:03:35 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


Have you been to a Specialty's Cafe and Bakery (www.specialtys.com)?


They have very slick in-store iPad-based "order-entry terminals", as well as website to place orders, and delicious food other than grilled cheese sandwiches.


I don't see how this is any better.

shygye75
shygye75
12/5/2012 | 5:03:33 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


Of course, if Mr. Kaplan really wants to succeed in the "no-lines" fast-food business, all he has to do is invest in HGCT (hospital-grade cafeteria technology). Sometimes entrepreneurs overthink things.

Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin
12/5/2012 | 5:03:30 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


> But seriously, why would the app not just launch a website (see the article about fragmentation).


Because that wouldn't be COOL or BRANDED or... something. Heck, I don't know. For all I know, the 'app' does just launch a website and is only called an app for the sake of media attention.

Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin
12/5/2012 | 5:03:29 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


> Have you been to a Specialty's Cafe and Bakery (www.specialtys.com)?


Ha!


Sorry, I have to laugh, because I have indeed been there. A lot. And it occurs to me that I never use those kiosks.


Why? Because I don't have to. There's rarely anybody in line!


So, it appears the kiosks do indeed minimize the lines, which frees up cashiers so that I don't have to use the kiosks.


That's funny. I might have just disproved half of what I was talking about, if I think about it hard enough.


Now, I don't do things like buy 8 sandwiches at once, which many other Specialty's customers do. (The Specialty's I go to has a huge lunch rush from nearby offices.)  In fact, I'm usually just getting a pour-it-yourself coffee... so even if there is a line, I'd feel dumb using the kiosk to basically ask someone to hand me an empty cup.

BigBro
BigBro
12/5/2012 | 5:03:28 PM
re: Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese


> Sorry, I have to laugh, because I have indeed been there. A lot. And it occurs to me that I never use those kiosks.


Give them a try the next time you order a sandwich, if only to experience the user interface, which, IMO, is pretty dang good!

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from Craig's A-List
If there isn't a master plan behind Google's creation of Kubernetes, maybe there ought to be.
Already replaced as CEO, John Chambers is fully detaching as he plans to step down as Cisco chairman, truly ending his time as the face and voice of the company.
The network must be automated. And Light Reading must write about it.
Comcast joins Google in asking for a flexible-rate optical standard, rather than 400G or terabit, but that's easier said than done
Cisco, Juniper and other more traditional Interop speakers might get overshadowed by the forces of virtualization
Featured Video
Upcoming Live Events
November 5, 2019, London, England
November 7, 2019, London, UK
November 14, 2019, Maritim Hotel, Berlin
December 3-5, 2019, Vienna, Austria
December 3, 2019, New York, New York
March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events