Author(s): George Jijiashvili
EE has entered the wearables segment with the LTE-enabled live-streaming 4GEE Action Cam. The device is priced at £299, records 1080p video, has a three-hour streaming battery life and comes with a viewfinder watch and waterproof case. It will be available in EE stores from 16 June on EE shared plans and pay-as-you-go, costing £99 on a £10-a-month plan or free with a £15 monthly plan. The Action Cam will also be offered by major retailers including Amazon, Carphone Warehouse and Currys.
The device works in conjunction with a new live-streaming app, Skeegle, which sends a unique URL to the user's specified contacts when streaming begins. Videos are automatically saved in the cloud through the Skeegle app, so contacts can register to watch the stream.
Those following the wearables market will recall the unveiling of the Liquid Image Ego LS LTE action camera in January 2014. The product has been delayed on numerous occasions, with the latest release date set for June 2015. However, the Ego LS requires an additional LTE module to be attached, whereas EE's camera is all-in-one.
The device presents EE with several opportunities. In 2013, wearable cameras were the biggest category in wearables, with over 4 million units shipped, many of them from GoPro. We expect the market to grow, albeit at much lower rate than other wearables categories. The explosion of real-time video sharing apps such as Meerkat and Periscope make the combination of wearable cameras and live streaming a logical step.
In addition, EE will be able to bundle the 4GEE Action Cam with the rest of its product offerings. Should the move prompt GoPro to introduce an LTE action camera, EE could benefit by providing data plans. EE hinted that it would work with the likes of GoPro if others decide to enter this segment.
However, the device suffers from a few limitations. Data roaming isn't included, meaning that live streaming will be limited when users are abroad. We expect wearable cameras to remain niche, and to primarily appeal to thrill-seekers and holiday-makers. High smartphone adoption and the fact that almost all smartphones have cameras are the main deterrent to the mass-market adoption of wearable cameras — it's much easier to live stream everyday events using a smartphone.
The inclusion of the device on EE's shared plans is a solid advert for the benefits of a contract that allows multiple connections. Rivals should be worried by EE's offer of single-contract connectivity for a new type of device; any response should involve a similar all-in-one solution. Our research shows clear demand for a single service provider among owners of multiple connected devices.
We've tried numerous lifelogging devices and action cameras, but often found the experience disappointing — mostly owing to a lack of efficient, on-the-go sorting, editing and sharing tools. Live streaming removes the effort of sorting through hours of video and thousands of images: EE's Action Cam looks set to provide a comprehensive solution.