Watch out GoPro, Xiaomi’s coming for you


After shaking up the global smartphone industry with its low-cost handsets, Xiaomi is moving on to its next target: the action camera market.

Taking direct aim at GoPro – the current market leader – Xiaomi on Monday launched the Yi Action Camera for 399 yuan ($64) – half the price of the entry level GoPro Hero, which retails for around $130.

On paper, the specifications of the new device trump that of its GoPro counterpart, say tech analysts.

While both action cameras have similar waterproof depth and a smartphone app to remotely control the device, the Yi weighs less, offers more built-in storage and boasts more powerful video capabilities.

Apple vs. Xiaomi: Why worry?

The Yi has a 16-megapixel camera and can record high-definition video at 60 frames per second. By comparison, the GoPro Hero features a 5-megapixel camera and records high-definition video at just 30 frames per second. A downside with the Yi, however, is that does not come with a case or mount – accessories that GoPro cameras are sold with.

GoPro under fire?

Like many of Xiaomi's products, the device is currently only available in China. The company says there are no plans in place for sales outside of its home market yet.

Nevertheless, the launch of the Yi Action Camera has troubled GoPro investors, with shares of company tumbling almost 5 percent on Monday.

Read MoreHow GoPro can regain its mojo

In an interview with CNBC last week, Andrew Uerkwitz, managing director at Oppenheimer said if Xiaomi were to launch an action camera it would really put the "kibosh" on GoPro's strategy for Asia.

"If Xiaomi does launch a camera, [it] has a really good shot at taking leading share, taking big share against GoPro," he said. "One thing that we think Xiaomi has going for it is that it's got a really great user base, it's got a really good following in China and other Asian countries."

No sweat

However, not all are concerned about Xiaomi's encroaching on GoPro's market share.

Marc Einstein, industry principal for the information and communications technology practice at Frost & Sullivan says Xiaomi is targeting a different market from GoPro.

"Like with Apple, the people that buy Xiaomi smartphones are people that weren't able to buy Apple devices. This will be the same case with Xiaomi's action camera," he said.

"If it was Apple or Samsung coming out with an action camera, I would be more concerned," he added.

The pioneer of the action camera industry, GoPro currently has a 94 percent of the market, according to Reuters. Closest rival Sony has a meager 3 percent.

Weak global appeal

Einstein says Xiaomi will have difficulty appealing to consumers in developed markets because its brand is far less-established outside of China.

"GoPro has managed to fend off other companies like Sony and HTC so I don't think it's 'game over' at all for the company," he said.

While it remains to be seen whether Xiaomi will be a disruptive force in the action camera market, if the enthusiastic response by Chinese consumers is any indication, it could be.

According to Xiaomi, the device is currently out of stock on (its e-commerce site),, and Tmall. The next sale will be on next Tuesday, 10am Beijing time.