MARKET OVERVIEW: Dealer's guide to action sport cameras

Publish Date: 
Apr 21, 2011
By Arlo Redwine

In the world of powersports a whole new product category is a rare thing. Even rarer is a new product category that quickly becomes a top-seller. But that’s precisely the case with action sport cameras. In 2008 they were a novelty. Last year, cameras were among the top 10 items sold in dealerships, according to data collected by ADP Lightspeed.

So are you cashing in? If you’re not familiar with the camera market, catching up won’t be difficult. Just two companies dominate: GoPro and Contour. Dealernews spoke with both to prepare this report on why the product segment has exploded, and how dealers can partake.

GoPro CEO Nicholas Woodman founded the company in 2002 to develop a camera for surfers. Two years later he’d gone to market.

Then Woodman realized a lifelong dream: learning to drive a race car. His instructors gave him the option of filming the experience. “They wanted to charge me a hundred bucks to put a camera on the car,” he says. “I thought that was crazy. I got one of my cameras instead and strapped it to the roll bar. The results were so incredible, and everybody at the race school was so excited, that a light bulb went off. I realized we had a real future in motorsports.”

Woodman and his R&D team began to develop a camera specifically to deal with the intense vibrations and audio requirements of motorsports. In 2008, GoPro introduced the Motorsports Hero standard-definition camera with a range of mounts. That same year the company signed a sponsorship deal with Yamaha. Josh Hill was using the camera when he won his first Supercross race. “That got us off to a great start in the motorcycle industry,” Woodman says.

In fall 2008, Go Pro came out with a second-generation Motorsports Hero with a new audio system and a wide-angle lens. “We spent a ton of time and money developing our sound system to cut out the wind but keep the throatiness of an engine,” Woodman says.

In fall 2009, GoPro launched the HD Motorsports Hero (using initials known to nearly everyone thanks to high-definition televisions). Today the model is the world’s best-selling HD camera for motorsports, Woodman claims. It retails for $299.99. GoPro also markets the HD Helmet Hero that’s identical to the Motorsports model except that it comes with less appropriate mount options, so most dealers don’t stock it.