Xiaomi is making huge inroads into the consumer drone market, giving serious competition to GoPro. They recently launched not one, but two variants of the Mi Drone, with 4K support on one – both priced less than GoPro’s 4K camera! The 1080p version costs $380, whereas the 4K version costs $460, and both come with three-axis gimbals and a companion app acting as a remote control and viewfinder. The Mi Drones is a game-changer, since all other available 4K camera drones cost north of $700.
The Mi Drone’s replaceable 5100mAh battery has been claimed to offer nearly half an hour of flight time on a single charge. This is at par (a shade above, in fact) with high-end drones like DJI’s Phantom 4. All the usual features are present, like one-key takeoff, landing, waypoint navigation, orbit, and return-to-home modes. What’s more, geo-fences can also be specified by the user in order to limit movement.
Where does GoPro stand?
Since the Hero 4 Session, GoPro hasn’t launched any new devices, and even delayed the launch of it’s much-awaited Karma drone, which was originally meant to be rolled out in the first half of 2016. Since then, GoPro’s quarterly sales have declined. The company also discontinued the Hero, Hero+, and Hero+ LCD (mid-range devices) to convince customers to migrate to it’s three core devices – the Session, the Silver, and the Black.
This, however, is seen as a bad move, with the discontinued devices accounting for a third of their sell-through in the previous quarter. So until the arrival of the Hero 5 and the Karma, GoPro has no new sources of revenue growth and customer acquisition.
If the Karma were to be launched in early 2016, it would have boosted sales (that’s what we’d expect, anyway) growth until the Hero 5’s arrival. With both delayed, investors (and potential buyers) are kept waiting. Both the Hero 5 and the Karma may become redundant by the time they’re launched, with drone giants like DJI, Yuneec, and now Xiaomi, swooping in to launch impressive drones.
Xiaomi is a strong competitor for GoPro in the action camera market as well – earlier this month, it started selling Yi 4K Action Camera 2, for under $200. This camera combines the features of GoPro’s $500 Hero 4 Black with the LCD display of the $400 Hero 4 Silver. Additionally, Yi Technology has partnered with Alphabet’s YouTube to create VR videos for it’s Jump platform, a position which was previously held exclusively by GoPro.
DJI has also been provided with promotional support by tech giant Apple, Inc., by installing large “feature bays” for DJI’s Phantom 4 drone at its stores. Select Apple stores are also providing hands-on training sessions with DJI employees for the same. This, in my opinion, is going to be immensely beneficial to DJI, and push GoPro further behind.
Xiaomi could also start selling the Mi Drone through its US retail website and/or third-party retailers, giving it an edge in market shares against DJI and other competitors. This however doesn’t seem very likely at the moment, but there is a possibility.
In conclusion, Xiaomi and others are fast overtaking GoPro in the action camera market, which was once an oligarchy with GoPro at its head. Also, newer drones could easily outshine the Karma even before it releases. Battered from both sides, GoPro’s vision of using drones to sell action cameras could possibly never come true.