This week’s Dew Tour Mountain Championships in Breckenridge marks the first of several competitions where American action sports athletes can qualify for the U.S. Olympic Ski Team.
Although there are several newcomers and veterans looking to punch their tickets to Sochi for the Winter Games, the Dew Tour may also be setting the stage for a not so subtle David versus Goliath battle for the top spot in the action sports camera market.
Shortly after launching the first of his action sports cameras in the U.S., iON founder and CEO Giovanni Tomaselli agreed to a partnership with NBC Sports to serve as the title sponsor for the Dew Tour Mountain Championships.
It was an unanticipated but nonetheless calculated move in Tomaselli’s plan to unseat GoPro, the formerly unchallenged and reigning champ of the action sports camera market. As title sponsor, the iON brand name appears on the competition bib for every athlete, even on those of well-known GoPro-sponsored athletes.
“It was vitally important for us to be apart of an event like the Dew Tour in Breck because we know there is a dominant incumbent and we need to make people aware of the fact that there is now a new product in the marketplace,” Tomaselli said. “It’s great seeing people like Shaun White, who is a GoPro rider, wearing a bib that has our name on it.”
But Tomaselli has been around long enough to know he can’t depend solely on one mainstream event to drive sales. Although iON already served as the title sponsor of the U.S. Open of Surfing in July and recently reached a partnership with Team Lucas Motorsports, Tomaselli is banking on more advanced technology in the hope of grabbing his fair share of the market.
Since launching in the U.S. in May 2012, iON has already released six different cameras. The most recent, the Air Pro 3, features Wi-Fi technology, is waterproof to 49 feet and boasts 3 megabytes per second transfer speeds, which means video shot with the Air Pro 3 can be downloaded and viewed in real time. Much of the footage Dew Tour fans are watching live on TV or through streaming video on the Dew Tour website is being shot with the Air Pro 3, Tomaselli said.
“This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of product,” Tomaselli said. “You can’t have one design and expect it to work the same for snow, water and street sports.
“We feel GoPro is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. There’s no shame in what they’re doing, but from a video perspective we thought a lot more could be done.”
So far, iON’s product line appears to be building momentum in the U.S. Not only has Tomaselli reached agreements with some the country’s largest and most popular electronics retailers, but he’s also built a team of action sports athletes to rival those at GoPro, including freestyle skier James Woods, freeskier Nick Goepper and snowboarders Kelly Clark and Scotty Lago.
“Money doesn’t buy these athletes,” Tomaselli said. “We got them because they love the product.”
For more information about iON, visit www.ioncamera.com.