The Ultimate Portable VideoCam: The ZeeCam

Dear electronic manufacturers. You’re doing the best you can in a crowded marketplace, but I present to you a free design for a new portable videocam lineup, and the following brilliant ideas are yours to ignore (or exploit without royalties).

I give you… the ZeeCam!

portable videocams with attitude

Problem: The portable videocamera space is crowded with complex models that have few distinct differentiators. The space once dominated by Flip faces threats by emerging technology via smart phones and lower-cost options such as portable still cameras that include video recording. The abundance of choice creates market confusion, and people are less inclined to carry a separate device.

Solution: Provide an exciting entry that is distinct from still cameras, videocameras and smart phones, and provides specific consumer segments many logical and emotional reasons to want to purchase and carry a portable video camera because it does more than a phone and is smaller and better than a videocamera. Generate a line of small, personality-driven portable videocameras that are uniquely branded (ZeeCam). Price them all at a conservative base retail price of $94 (affording only a minor margin given the advanced technology). Generate profit from bold accessories (purchased with “ZeePoints’) that are as much about fashion as functionality. Each ZeeCam will be designed for a specific high-potential psychographic segment, and tailored and marketed accordingly.

ZeePoints: ZeePoints are a currency that can be “earned” via creative tasks (like designing plugins or custom accesories), and serve two purposes: First, they’re social currency (ala FourSquare’s Mayor), but they’re also redeemable toward purchase of new cameras, accessories and software plugins. ZeePoints are awarded to people that promote the cameras, design accessories, create new plugins, and contribute to the community.

Customer-Centric Design: Assemble a group of video experts who are market influencers: top vloggers and YouTube stars. This “customer ad board” will help further identify unmet needs, and will ultimately be the primary “earned” media approach to making the ZeeCam the must-have camera. They will receive several models of the ZeeCams that are customized for them, and in exchange for promoting the cameras they will receive a) dozens of free samples to give away to their audience, readers, fans and viewers, b) similar to an “affiliate” program, they will receive significant ZeePoints for each purchase made via their own store:

Base Design: All $94 ZeeCams come with the basics: excellent HD recording functionality, better audio recording than Flips, a thumb/USB plug that “springs” out on a sturdy cord rather than “switch blade. (This serves as a toy with a purpose. It avoids the maneuver associated with plugging a Flip into a laptop or computer). Nothing is proprietary. Any The rechargeable batteries are charged via USB, but in a pinch can be replaced with normal AA or AAA batteries. The videos are stored on a normal SD card, and the base comes with a generous 4 or 8 GB. Wifi-enabled SD cards are optional.

Software: The ZeeCam line is especially distinct in its approach to software. On “setup” the user can choose to show/hide advanced features (turning off record light, filters like Viddy/Instagram, auto-upload when synching or in Wifi range). The camera doesn’t care if you hold it sideways or not, and adjusts the resolution accordingly (to avoid the black bars visible when iPhone users forget to turn the camera sideways). The highly intuitive interface allows the creator to “stitch” clips together while shooting, or mark a specific clip as “ready” for upload. When synching or in WiFi range, the videos (single or “stitched”) can be uploaded in optimal compression to a wealth of video-sharing sites including YouTube (and the camera remembers your username/password). The optional desktop software borrows from the best of Flip’s intuitive editing suite (as well as the ultra-simple Windows Movie Maker) and makes it incredibly easy for a noob to edit and post. BUT the ZeeCam allows for simple and instant export/conversion for people who prefer using their own software (iMovie, Adobe Premier, Final Cut, Sony Vegas).

Software Extras: ZeePoints and cash can get you plug-ins that are as limited as your imagination. Developers are encouraged and rewarded to create cool tools that turn footage into art. Plugins might allow for one-click addon of a video intro/outro, and auto musical score.

Fashion Accessories: The front plate of each camera is removable and interchangeable. To provide a wide range of options, partner with DeviantArt to crowd-source artwork. Partner with CafePress and other custom printers to sell $11-$19 snap-on plates. In addition,

Use-Case Product Line Base Cameras: There will be no complex model names (CD-HDX10401). Instead each ZeeCam will be named by use-case type or for a specific psychographic segment, and offer accessories and cases that fit the unique behavioral (not demographic) needs of these discreet segments.

  • The Wallet ZeeCam: In a smooth rubber case, this camera is designed to fit into the back pocket and is sized precisely like a wallet. It ensures the user’s spine is not tilted by the wallet in one pocket. It’s durable and the smooth rubber case ensures the camera can’t be crushed but can be removed quickly.
  • The Purse ZeeCam: It’s designed for tweens and young female adults, and it has loads of colors and fashionable “plates” (tie-dye) and accessories. It also has a “secret compartment,” where people can store an ID or some cash.
  • The Action ZeeCam: This one is for hard-core outdoor types who want a rugged camera that fits their active lifestyle. Its default case is water resistant and rubber, and has clips for attaching to helmets and bikes. Optional accessories may include the $49 underwater case for scuba diving and water sports.
  • The Mom ZeeCam: This version is simplified to make it incredibly easy to shoot and upload, and the software defaults to beginner’s guide.
  • The Spy ZeeCam: This camera/mic detach in a watch-sized piece that can be attached discretely anywhere, and is connected via a sturdy retractable wire to the unit (which can be kept in a pocket).

Any other ideas!?


10 Replies to “The Ultimate Portable VideoCam: The ZeeCam”

  1. don’t forget 1020p, hd, stabilizer, 4 to 8 gb internal or 2 gigs with mem card, 5 smooth zoom, external mic input, usb port for external light, wall charger, extra battery, HDMI cable, wide angle lens, view lens protector and a very sturdy case big enough to store all that and what did I forget?

  2. All the social/fashion junk would make me want to steer clear unless it had phenomenal performance reviews, but I’m probably not in the right “psychographic segment” to buy such a camera anyway. Actually, if the action/spy versions were better than a ContourHD or a GoPro, maybe I would be interested.

  3. I would love this, above all video quality is number one, and an external mic jack. I would go for the action….water resistant and a little tougher are where it’s at.

    I don’t see this replacing the GoPro…just complimenting it…kinda like my playsport…but hopefully a little bit better. 🙂

  4. Definitely would have the tripod mount, but Jan’s list is a bit long for the basic model. Alexis- you said what I meant to clarify. You’re definitely not in the target market because you want excellence above portability and fashion. This puppy would ABSOLUTELY have to be as good as most (or better) but the focus would be less on getting 5-star cnet and pcmag reviews, and more on igniting people’s passion/emotion and giving them new tools to make it easier to carry and use.

  5. From what I see around me – people using their iPhone 4 or Android phones to shoot video and take photos – I’m not sure there is a place for cheap video cameras that shoot similar or even slightly better video quality than a smartphone.

    (because at 94$, you obviously can really be way better than an iPhone 4 — did you test Aiptek and other very low price video camera ? It’s really not a good experience, for multiple, minor but additive reasons. And there is already a bunch of those cheap camera covering action, spy and every other use cases you list, so they got that covered.)

    If cameras are to survive as a standalone products for consumers, they should go the reverse way and integrate in video cameras what makes the iPhone 4 such a great camera: an open platform for apps, standardized and already known by the users. (so Android, obviously, iOS not being licensable)

    For example, it has been a constant frustration for me that I can buy and use an incredibly powerful app like Autostitch on an old iPhone 3G — but not on a high end Sony camera.

    A bunch of plug-ins are not enough: you need to put a full, up-to-date version of Android in there, so I can buy video apps on the android market and use them on my phone, my tablet, my google tv, and my video camera without having to think about it.

  6. That’s an intriguing idea, Julien. But what sort of apps do you want in a high end camera?

    I think the problem is that most people buying high end gear are not likely to use video apps for crappy filters and effects. If they want that, then they can add it with their video editor which give far more creative control. A pro who wants to create a panorama will use a DSLR and then carefully stitch the images together in Photoshop.

    Professionals want their cameras to be hard core cameras, not nifty gadgets with novelty apps, so the really high end gear will remain uncompromised by features which can be done better outside of the camera (you’d definitely need to make some compromises if you plan to put a full OS on a camera). There may be some room in the market for higher end consumer products to have apps though.

  7. I do not find phone camera’s to be able to do the video quality I need yet…but I do see their quality getting better in the near future…I hate carrying around tons of gadgets and stuff…and for vlogging I need something that produces good sound and video and that’s it…don’t need filters or any other crap. That’s why I picked up my playsport…does everything I need for now…I would love better low light performance (and external mic jack) but overall it’s getting the job done.

  8. So are we looking for the iPhone equivalent for a Smal VidCam. but with Higher Quality and input devices. Something withOUT a phone so a bigger HardDrive, but WITH Wifi. Different levels of cams.

    But we are looking for something that alot of 3rd party manufacturers would want to make accessories for.

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