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The Next, Next Big Thing: Action Cameras

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I know what you are already thinking, everyone and their mom already has an action camera. To make matters worse, GoPro (the leader in this realm) has seen its stock price drop in what can only be described as a complete free fall for the past month, thanks mostly to lagging sales.

So, how can action cameras be the next, next big thing in the motorcycle industry? The answer is a simple one, if you will allow me to explain.

The next, next big thing for motorcycles isn’t the cameras themselves – those are basically already at commodity status for consumers – but instead the future for action cameras resides in integrated camera platforms for motorcycles, and other action sports.

There is a lot of business school “bullshit bingo” in that last statement, so let me break it down to you in human-speak.

Motorcycle brands need to realize how consumers are using their vehicles, and adapt to meet those needs directly. In this case, it means offering an integrated video recording solution with their motorcycles.

A Recording Renaissance

A quick stop on YouTube shows us the plethora of videos that motorcyclists are filming of their two-wheeled adventures and antics.

Similarly, modern racing footage means the use of a number of on-board shots, which show riders tucking behind the windscreen, getting their knee down, and the landscape zooming by at speed.

Just from a use-perspective – i.e. the overwhelming number of motorcyclists that are already using action cameras on their bikes – motorcycles OEMs need to embrace on-board video systems, and make it part of their standard electronics offering.

That is just the first level of this technology though, as savvier brands will realize that there is an opportunity to forge a meaningful B2B relationship with struggling, but powerful brands, like GoPro.

Before we go farther I should note that I will repeatedly use GoPro as the example here in this story, namely because it is the largest brand in the space, but also because it seems the most forward-thinking, especially from a software perspective.

However, you can exchange its name for virtually any other brand though – like I said, action cameras are already a commodity business.

The B2B Play

In the same way that brands like Öhlins, Brembo, Marchesini, and others have teamed up with motorcycle brands to create “premium” and “value added” components for up-market motorcycle models, OEMs can do the same with an action camera brand like GoPro.

Doing so would have tremendous benefits for a growing number of motorcyclists who are already using their motorcycles with videography in-mind, but with difficult solutions.

By offering wired-power, sold mounting points, and integrated recording controls, motorcycle enthusiasts would greatly benefit from a motorcycle with robust video-making capabilities – all while using relatively cheap and established technologies that consumers already find familiar.

Since there is a value-added to consumers, this means that motorcycle brands can make some extra margin on the added features, similar to how riders will pay extra for a bike equipped with Öhlins suspension, instead of Showa or Sachs.

A name brand, like GoPro brings value here. GoPro too benefits from the partnership, as it allows the company to act on what is surely the next evolution of its business plan: video as a platform.

Pandering to the InstaFamous Crowd

For motorcyclists, there is a lot that can be achieved from a savvy platform partnership. Imagine the three or four integrated video cameras on your bike automatically tagging and saving footage where your motorcycle was in various states of lean, loft, and acceleration.

When auto-recording isn’t enough, push-button recording from the handlebars could make it tremendously easier for riders to record while on the bike, which means less stopping and more living in the moment.

At the end of the ride or at the next stop even, Footage could then be easily transferred for editing and dissemination to a smartphone or computer via existing protocols, like Bluetooth or wifi. From there, you pick the social media platform – maybe it’s even one that’s being operated by the motorcycle OEM.

This application easily transcends both on-road and off-road riding, and again it is a practice we are already seen in all the powersports segments.

Purists vs. Progressives

It seems anytime we talk about new technologies in the two-wheeled space, there are voices that claim motorcycles are fine just the way they are – no need to add-on complicated features that will inevitably break, right?

The argument is fine for current motorcyclists to make, but understand that it is a rate-limiting position to take. Technology is progressing in every industry around motorcycling, and if motorcycles don’t progress with it, the number of motorcyclists in the market will slowly shrink.

In other words, the Luddite position is ultimately a losing one, even if it caters to what the majority of current motorcyclists think. The motorcycle industry is quickly becoming an industry that can no longer see the forest from the trees, because of vocal voices like these.

Thankfully, motorcycle OEMs know that this is a sport that is dominated by grumpy old white men, and so they are desperately trying to bring new riders into motorcycling who are younger in age, female, or ethnically diverse.

Right now, the topic du jour is how motorcycle manufacturers are trying to “crack the nut” that is younger riders.

I would argue that the solution to that problem is a fairly easy one, if these same OEMs would just stop and see how young riders are currently using their motorcycles, and how Millenials and Gen-X’ers in general are living their lives.

Add-on and wearable action camera systems add value, to a point. But an integrated solution would not only make the user experience better, but a well-forged partnership to a video platform provider could add possibilities that aren’t currently available in the marketplace.

The pitch basically boils down to this: universally, motorcycle enthusiasts ride on two-wheels because it is fun, and younger enthusiasts live in a world where “sharing fun” is the modus operandi.

It shouldn’t take too much connecting of the dots here to realize that catering to a younger generation’s need and desire will be paramount in the decades coming forth. So, let’s get to it.

“The Next, Next Big Thing in Motorcycles” series is a semi-regular round of articles, which focus on emerging and developed technologies that are making their way to the motorcycle industry. It should be noted that Asphalt & Rubber, for one, welcomes our robot overlords.

Jensen Beeler

Despite his best efforts, Jensen is called one of the most influential bloggers in the motorcycle industry, and sometimes consults for motorcycle companies, whether they've solicited his expertise or not.

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