If you’ve seen one of those awesome aerial footages on YouTube, there’s a pretty good chance the very camera used to capture that was a GoPro. The wearable action camera brand is definitely the top-of-mind choice among enthusiasts, hobbyists and videographers looking for a versatile and durable high-definition camera to capture all kinds of “extreme” action footage. To illustrate, many consumer drone products already come with GoPro-compatible mounts.

In a recent announcement, GoPro is now planning to create their own line of drones equipped with high-definition cameras, which they plan to release by late 2015. These new devices will retail somewhere between $500 and $1000 USD.

High-Def High Flyers
This could prove to be a game changer for the consumer drone market, as the extremely popular action camera maker might just turn out to be the brand that launches consumer drones into mainstream orbit. According to The Washington Post, GoPro could be the “innovation champion” of consumer drones, much like Google is to search engines and Apple is to digital music.

When GoPro joins the fray in 2015, it’s pretty safe to assume the company won’t be facing stiff competition. Its would-be competitors aren’t really what you would consider giants. According to reports, well-known drone maker DJI Innovations from China made $131 million in sales last year, while other brands barely breached the $50 million mark. By comparison, GoPro – with just its cameras and accessories – made $673 million during the first nine months of 2014. That’s almost six times the size of the entire personal drone market.

Making Consumer Drones Mainstream
With the right moves, GoPro is definitely poised to emerge as the leader of the consumer drone market. Having first advantage will certainly give them an edge over competitors, but the key lies in their efforts to successfully convert existing GoPro action camera users to GoPro drone users. By doing so, they’ll be creating a networked ecosystem of users – and an almost insurmountable lead over their competitors.

  1. Drones now? I thought drones were on the way to getting banned. At least in the US?

    I’ve heard so many complaints about drones and how they can be both dangerous and infringe upon personal privacy etc.
    I personally think drones are really cool and great for example for indie filmmakers that want to do aerial shots and things like that.
    On the other hand I do agree with some of the things being said by the opposing side.

    I think gopro drones will be really cool though, and probably quite popular.

    • I really like your point about drones being a useful resource for indie filmmakers, it’s something that I haven’t really put much thought until now but the application just makes tonnes of sense. I guess whenever drones are brought up its not for something so artistic/casual, as most people jump to military applications immediately, or having them available to consumers can lead to weaponizing which is what holds the technology back in some ways.

  2. Holy cows, “consumer drone market” is a thing now? I never expected to hear that phrase. I know Amazon Prime Air is in the works, but who would have expected it to become a consumer thing? I can see why they would be nice for making movies. But I don’t know how much further they should be applied. What if the police start using these? I’m feeling a “1984” vibe already.

    • I’ve got an amateur drone that is quite fun to fly around, and I know of others that are much more expensive rigs with video transmitters aboard that allow for fly-by-wire over a head mounted display. It’s really neat, but I hardly think it’s a large market yet. Mostly a niche hobby due to the enormous cost of getting started.

    • There have been consumer grade drones for over a year now actually at least to my knowledge . The problem is most governments have a lot of restrictions regarding the use of drones such as where you can fly them and how high you can fly them to name a few. If drones become popular with the “average Joe”, it will be interesting to see what kind of restrictions governments will impose. Maybe drone flying areas, maybe licenses for drone owners.

      • I do not see how restrictions are a problem… As far as I’m concerned, I really would not want people to get this as a hobby without a few laws about where they can go (filming the neighbours really should be off limit, even if they claim it’s by “accident”) and how high (risking whatever sort of interference here). I mean, you’re flying a drone, not a kite! But maybe it’ll become as normal as remote controlled little cars.

        • I agree, most of the restrictions seem pretty easy to straighten out. Obviously there need to be a height restriction. Another one should be that you are not allowed to fly the drone within XX meters of overhanging wires.

          Not so sure of the neighbor one, obviously if you are using it to look inside their house that should be a no no, but just flying over the neighborhood to see whats going on doesn’t seem too bad, just don’t harass anyone with it.

  3. Love it! The accessibility of technology is increasing at an astounding rate. While this may cause some issues with personal privacy and security, it’s well past time that the laws surrounding those were reformed anyway. Can’t wait to have something that will enable me to take ariel views without having to actually fly.

  4. Well GoPro definitely make really good cameras, I’ll give them that. So I suppose combining them with drones is the only natural way to progress. However, like other commenters have mentioned, it does raise some rather worrying security/privacy issues. They were bound to happen though as technology advances.

  5. Heh, it was inevitable! I guess we’ll see many more companies getting in the same line of business or, at least, actively engaging in something closely related in the future. Drones are here to stay, and we’ve only started seeing their uses.

    Just two minutes ago I was reading about a new use of them, in the role of David Hasselhoff / Pamela Anderson. No, really: as… lifeguards! Why risk the life of another person to save someone who’s drowning, when you can just “get the rope to him” (or floating device, or whatever)?

    • The issue with this is that it requires quite a bit of skill to fly a drone successfully, especially at longer distances. Between that and the fact that most drones’ flight time is rather short (think sub 15 minutes for the nicer ones) it makes for search and rescue operations from them to be lacking.

      They could definitely be useful in certain cases, but not enough for widespread deployment… at this point in time anyway.

      • I totally agree – but it’s just the beginning. I think it’s realistic to regard what’s “out there” now as the first gen of drones, and it will only get better from now on. Exactly like two decades ago a “mobile phone” was a brick almost the size of an Xbox One, that could “only” place calls, and now we’ve got 5” slabs in our pockets that can replace our computers, drones in 5 – 10 years won’t be what we’re seeing today. They’ll have more “juice”, better motors and we may see features like autopilot (to auto-avoid obstacles), embedded cameras etc.

        • Yup, we are in the age of the drone for sure. I know the Amazon thing is a little far fetched, but I fully expect to see drone flying around for various reasons within a few years.

  6. I can’t wait until we start hearing about invasion of privacy cases by drones, or the inevitable accidents caused when a drone crashes in to something/one.

    I like the idea that this technology is leaking in to the consumer sphere, but at the same time I’m not sure if it’s really steps forward. I can see it taking off (hah!) in the cinematic world, as it allows for videographers to take helicopter-like footage without the immense costs of renting a helicopter rig.

  7. I can’t wait until we start hearing more about this. I love technology and the things that humans are capable of inventing in today’s society, to me this is the top of the tree. I am constantly searching trying to find more information and my husband has informed me that I should probably just pursue a career in this field 🙂 lol.

  8. It’s a shame that GoPro is getting such “bad” press like this.

    I honestly believe that the reason GoPro is doing this is because of peoples most recent fascination with drone/camera combos. They are getting quite huge in the photography word.

    It is such a shame that drones can be used for such terrible purposes, as eventually these will probably disappear.

  9. The possibilities for a hovering, drone mounted GoPro camera are astounding. I can see applications in cinematography, extreme sports etc. Imagine Mass Effect-like compact drones that follow around newscasters, completely eliminating the need for cameramen. That would of course, require a lot of work into AI and drone technology in general, but it seems to be a highly likely possibility.

    All this sounds to be the stuff of science fiction. Intelligent drones will, no doubt, take their place in our daily lives quickly.

  10. While I love many of the videos and images captured by drones, and I see their potential usefulness (that, and I want one myself!) I can’t help but wonder what it will be like when drones become as ubiquitous as cell phones, especially if they’re fairly inexpensive. Besides privacy issues, what will it be like when the sky is full of dozens of drones at national parks, landmarks, and buildings? Think of some of the photos you’ve seen of national galleries or famous museums, where you can’t see the artwork over the iPads in the air. Will the Lincoln Memorial become the next tech-hidden must-see? And what if some of these novice drone fliers decide to get up-close-and-personal with a historic treasure, and then WHOOPS! the historic treasure has a new addition.

    I hate thinking that we need to regulate every little thing, but I also can’t help but think that sometimes we regulate society to protect society from the great damage that can be done by the lowest common denominator.

  11. This is cool! I would love to be able to use a drone to be able to capture my friends Rugby Games from above. That and some of the awesome shots that I could take of New Zealand from the air… Its not even that expensive compared to what I would expect it to be.

  12. It’s really the most logical step for the company to take if you think about it. GoPro has always gone for a concept that revolves around unorthodox perspectives in photography. This will just be another continuation in their trend. Provided that the government doesn’t crack down on drones and pass strict regulations on them, GoPro will control another niche market.

  13. GoPro drones are an extremely cool piece of technology. I’ve been with some organizations that have utilized these in their media production, and the result that they produce is definitely worth the cash.

  14. Yeah, I heard that drones are illegal at least in the US, but I never understood why.
    Anyway, I’m happy that GoPro is taking a swing at drones. They are a very good company and I’m eagerly waiting to see what they are going to come up with.
    The price point is also not that high.

  15. My SO got a drone for Christmas, he loved it. I honestly don’t see the big fuss about them, they seem like fun toys, but that’s just it. They can be so expensive! My SO was so excited and happy with his drone, playing around with it almost on a daily basis. Now he doesn’t even touch it 😛 Drones are just a pricey fad, in my opinion.

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