Snap’s camera company ambitions included exploring drones as a possible product line, according to a new report from the New York Times. The drone plans would’ve given users the potential to take photos and videos from an eagle-eye perspective to share on Snapchat, its social network, and would’ve offered another hardware option alongside Spectacles as a way to help users extend their Snapping experience beyond the smartphone.
The Snap drone has only been an internal project to date, according to the NYT, with no firm plans to release it as a consumer product, according to the report. And indeed, Snap is famously secretive, and very likely to kick off a number of projects of this ilk prior to putting them in the pipeline for full production. May tech companies operate in the same way, spinning up even large organizations focused on R&D for a new potential product pipeline before deciding to go in a different direction.
Drones have proven a route to potential transformation for a number of other tech companies, including Parrott, which previously focused heavily on Bluetooth accessories and devices including cars kits. GoPro also sought to supplement its own efforts as a camera company with the introduction of the GoPro Karma last year, a drone with one of its sports cameras integrated on a gimbal mount.
Snap billed itself as a camera company when it shifted the company to its new brand, away from Snapchat, which became its primary product instead. In its S1 filing documents, it said that its Spectacles hardware business was still not a material part of its operation in terms of revenue, but it also began selling Spectacles online this month, growing distribution from its isolated and temporary physical pop-up shots, which sprang up around the U.S.
Hardware still could play a key role in Snap’s overall goals, so don’t count out the possibility of a drone tied to Snapchat in the future – but I’d expect to see other hardware explorations precede a consumer drone launch.