Flip Camera's Founder Says Cheese
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