GoPro Inc. is developing its own line of consumer drones to expand from its core business of making wearable video cameras popular with surfers and other sports enthusiasts, according to people familiar with its plans.
The company plans to start selling multirotor helicopters equipped with high-definition cameras late next year, aiming for a price tag between $500 and $1,000, according to these people.
The entry of a big consumer-electronics brand to the drone market signals how mainstream—and lucrative—the industry has become in just a few years. Consumers have flocked to unmanned aircraft in recent years as technology advances have made them smaller, cheaper and easier to fly, leaving regulators scrambling to keep up.
Consumer drones are typically lightweight helicopters with cameras that can be controlled with a tablet or smartphone. U.S. regulators allow their use by hobbyists. The devices are expected to be hot sellers this holiday season and have even inspired their own version of the selfie, or self-portrait photo, called a “dronie.”
GoPro’s move into drones comes as its market-leading camcorder business faces competition from rivals such as Sony Corp. and others. The 10-year old company, which went public in June, has been investing heavily in research and development to maintain its lead in the camera business, which shipped nearly 2.8 million units in the first nine months of the year, up 15% from the same period last year.
San Mateo, Calif.-based GoPro is already a supporting player in the drone market, providing many of the roughly 3 oz. cameras that consumer drones carry. But GoPro may be hedging against a business it could be losing; the world’s biggest consumer drone maker, SZ DJI Technology Co. of China, recently started selling devices that come with its own in-house cameras. Other drone makers could stop supporting GoPro devices if they are competing head-to-head with the camera maker.
“I’m happy to let GoPro keep making great cameras and we’ll keep making great copters,” said Colin Guinn, senior vice president of sales at Berkeley, Calif.-based 3D Robotics Inc., which sells GoPro cameras with its drones.
And make it water resistant.
I want a Parrot Bebop with a GoPro quality camera.
W/ a $10B market cap they might be better off just trying to buy DJI
Maybe now we finally get gopro cameras without the wide angle barrel distortion and exposure options more suited for aerial work.
Not surprising really as Nick has clearly stated in the past that he would like to see the company expand more into a movie/video production company as well as a camera company. Making their own version of a UAV that houses their camera is a smart move I think.
I think the biggest hurdle is not that other companies are producing their own camera's to work with their UAV's but the current state of where the FAA is going to land with it rules & reg's as far as flight operations go.
There will always be the hobbyist who loves to fly, knows what to do and is safe about it. There is also the person who see's a video on YouTube, goes out and purchases one with no prior knowledge of the what it entails or the risks involved and just starts flying around.
Given those 2 groups, if the FAA says that a Pilots Lic and hrs of flight time recorded in a aircraft are required before you can "legally" operate a UAV (in any way) then you will get those people who follow the rules and move forward. However if that is the case then it is possible that the market will not be so keen on purchasing one because of that rule/regulation.
There will always be the ones who do not abide by the rules and will purchase one no matter the FAA states. And there will also be the ones who see the rules, do not wish to get the proper licensing (if that is what is necessary) and do not proceed any further with the hobby thus shrinking the consumer market.
Interesting times ahead, it's going to be quite a day outside when the FAA releases it final version.