Nikon beats GoPro to market with KeyMission 360 action camera

At the 2016 CES in Las Vegas, Nikon unveiled their KeyMission 360, an action camera that shoots in 360 degrees. Could it be the 360 camera for the masses?

Image: Nikon

In the camera world, few technological advances are as buzzworthy as the ability to shoot 360 degree photo and video. The trend was further accelerated back in March 2015 when YouTube announced support for 360 video.

With all the growth in 360 camera tech, one manufacturer has been strangely absent from the conversation--GoPro. The company's cameras are often used in arrays to shoot 360 footage but, so far, GoPro hasn't announced a true 360 camera.

Now, it seems that Nikon has beaten them to the punch. Early on during the 2016 CES in Las Vegas, Nikon announced its KeyMission 360, the company's first-ever action camera, and one that shoots in 360 degree to boot.

Not much is known about the camera, other than what it looks like and a few minor specs. On the device itself, we see that it's waterproof up to 30 meters or 100 feet underwater, and it is shockproof from a drop of 2 meters or 6.6 feet. And, Nikon's vibration reduction technology will help keep your adventure pics from getting too blurry. Also, it is capable of recording 4K video.

Image: Nikon

The KeyMission was announced alongside the Nikon D5 and D500 SLRs. The digital SLRs are Nikon's bread and butter, but the entrance into the action cam market could provide a good way for the company to broaden its revenue stream provided that the price point isn't outrageous. Based on its feature set and capabilities, it could demand a premium price tag.

If Nikon can effectively market the KeyMission 360, it could prove an interesting competitor to GoPro's line of cameras. However, given the 360 capture and 4K capabilities, it could carve out its own niche as a premium product in the market.

One thing is for certain, and that is the last thing GoPro needs right now is heavy competition. After a decent IPO, the company's stock price and revenue fell in late 2015, which Fortune's Tom Huddleston, Jr. attributed to competitors entering the market. If Nikon makes a real go at this, it could unseat GoPro as the king of action cameras.

There are plenty of other 360 cameras in the market right now, but most of them are expensive and are not designed for "action" scenarios. The closest competitor that Nikon would face would be the Kodak Pixpro SP360, a similar device that entered the market last summer.

One of the major potential use cases for 360 cameras is creating content for VR experiences. Based on its form factor, the Nikon KeyMission 360 could be marketed to that audience as well.

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