A Wall Street Journal article recently suggested that GoPro’s sales could fall by as much at 17% this year. If that’s the case, GoPro would see its first annual decline and would post sales of around $1.35 billion for 2016. The article argues that GoPro has lost market share to smartphone cameras given their ownership ubiquity, omnipresent availability, and competitive technology. The WSJ piece makes only a two sentence reference to GoPro’s impending entry into the consumer drone market. This is where the Journal misses the mark. GoPro’s entry into the drone market could be significant to the industry and extremely lucrative. Although Chinese manufacturer DJI dominates the drone market today, GoPro with its millions of customers brings an established brand name and extended reach to the emerging drone market. Just look at social media:
- GoPro has 9.5 million Facebook “likes” compared to 2.5 million for DJI.
- GoPro has 87 thousand Twitter “followers” compared to DJI’s 16 thousand.
We are in the early, early days of drones. Actual drone sales numbers are difficult to come by but a guesstimate would peg the number at about a million drones being sold in the U.S. in 2015. Assuming an average price of $500, total consumer drone sales in the U.S. was a half a billion dollars. In a recent FAA published report, hobbyist sales are projected to reach 1.9 million units this year growing to 4.3 million units by 2020. If prices remain fixed, a big if, the annual domestic drone market will hit the two billion mark by 2020! This does not include commercial drone sales where many consumer drones will easily take a short step to what the FAA believes will be 2.7 million units by 2020. And then there is the international market!
The eventual winners in the consumer drone market (and there will be a handful) will provide an integrated suite of video capture, editing, management and presentation solutions. GoPro appears headed in this direction.
- Karma GoPro’s Drone is right around the corner.
- GoPro has recently acquired two video editing companies.
A natural extension for GoPro would be a video management and presentation solution. As an active drone pilot, I manage all my aerial still and videos on my Bevy, a robust photo and video management device connected to my wireless network and big screen TV. Marrying that functionality to the GoPro’s robust image capture functionailty would make for a comprehensive and seamless experience.
Although GoPro sales may fall this year, there is room for optimism in San Mateo. With their brand, an integrated suite of drones and video solutions, it is reasonable to think that GoPro can quickly grab a large slice of the rapidly growing consumer drone market. How big a slice? Time will tell, but a quarter share (of just the U.S. market) would result in a half a billion dollars of GoPro drone sales by 2020! Add the international markets and GoPro quickly closes in on a billion dollar drone business.
We are not alone in believing that GoPro will be a major drone player. The Drone Stock Index (introduced last month by Reality Shares) includes GoPro. As of yesterday, GoPro represented 3.3% of the index and was one of the top five holdings in the 42 drone stock index.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com