Hear the words consumer drone and you’re probably thinking the Phantom series from DJI. The Chinese drone maker wasted no time using its $75 million cash injection from Accel.
DJI set its point-of-interest on the iconic Swedish camera maker, Hasselblad. No word on the size of the minority stake DJI took and both companies maintain they will continue to operate independently.
But, the stake does mean the companies will be partnering up. DJI with the drone lineup and Hasselblad with its prowess in imaging. Specifically, Hasselblad’s reputation in the professional market.
I guess we know what the next Inspire cameras will include. Hasselblad already offers the A5D aerial camera that shoots in 50 or 80 megapixels. Granted, don’t expect the Inspire One to be rocking an A5D.
The pricing should be interesting…
Both companies are celebrating the move which guarantees DJI a spot on the Hasselblad board.
“We are honored to be partnering with DJI, the clear technology and market leader in its segment,” said Perry Oosting, Hasselblad’s CEO in a statement. “DJI and Hasselblad are equally enthusiastic about creativity and excellence, and we are looking forward to sharing technical expertise and paving the way for future innovations.”
“Hasselblad and DJI share a passion to provide creative people with cutting-edge, inventive technology to help them take visual storytelling to the next level,” said Frank Wang, DJI’s Founder and CEO in the statement. “With this partnership, we combine our strengths to further push the borders of what’s possible in imaging technology.”
Translation? We are about to make a ton of money off this. You just thought the Zenmuse cameras were amazing.
DJI is set to record $1 billion in sales this year making the timing of the Hasselblad move interesting. While DJI is king, companies like Parrot are making inroads in the consumer arena. To offset the incursion, DJI has been rapidly developing prosumer and professional drones and imaging systems.
Securing a stake in Hasselblad helps head off any potential challenges in the professional market later down the line. It also puts Hasselblad into the minds of hobbyists and the prosumer market with cash to burn.
Hasselblad and the Moon
Founded in 1941, Hasselblad is known for its ruggedness. NASA routinely calls on the company for imaging equipment on missions.
In fact, a Hasselblad 500 was sold in 2014 for nearly a million dollars. What makes it special? It went to the moon and back on Apollo 15 in 1971. Before that mission, all the camera bodies had to be left behind due to weight constraints placed on each Apollo mission.
While a lucky buyer got his hand on a piece of history, a Hasselblad took the first images on the moon. In fact, 12 cameras remain on the moon’s surface today.
Your Next Drone
What does this mean for the average drone buyer?
I’ll take extended battery life, but it looks like imaging is going to the area consumer drone companies make their mark. The Hasselblad deal cements the push, and the Canonical partnership should give rise to even greater camera control.
Battery technology will have to follow, but DJI’s move means they are serious about image quality. With good reason. Aerial photography is in a sizable number of viral videos. And the drones that create them are on everyone’s holiday wishlist.