When we saw the media brief on the Lily camera, we were immediately intrigued. When we saw the launch video, we were captivated. Lily addresses all the concerns most everyday people have with flying a drone by taking out all the complicated pieces that make drone flying difficult. You don’t have to worry about a controller, experience, or the time and often disasters that come with learning to fly. It makes drones accessible to anyone, and that’s in the spirit of what makes great ideas successful. You want sophisticated, professional level stuff in a package that your parent’s understand. That’s basically what made the iPhone, the personal computer, the internet, Google successful. And now it’s what will make Lily into something special.
Though we haven’t seen a production model yet, the beta version, which of course should be full of bugs, was surprisingly excellent. It never crashed, it battled wind beautifully, was easy to control, and adds a host of features that no one who currently flies a drone even considered a possibility. The idea of a waterproof, small, high definition flying camera was the stuff of myth. Not anymore, not with Lily.
My reservations with Lily are few, but they do exist. The entry level price point of $499 is where I would love to see this camera stay, but when it comes to market officially next February, it will retail for double that. Dropping $1000 isn’t something an average consumer will find acceptable. $500 for a toy is certainly reasonable, $1000 kicks the legs out of a huge portion of the market: families. As amazing as the Lily is, it isn’t a product that will change lives, only droning. The reason the iPhone spread so quickly was a mixture of its amazing technology and its totally approachable price point (when subsidized by the cell service providers). To buy an iPhone outright is just too expensive, even today. That same idea, in my opinion, carries over into the Lily. It’s a consumer drone with a professional price point, and that dichotomy doesn’t jive.
The camera that lives in the Lily is equivalent to the GoPro Hero 3, not even a top of the line small camera. It’s good, but not great, which is another reason the price point gives me pause. I hope I’m wrong about how much families are willing to spend on a drone, but I don’t think I am.
All that said, I love the Lily. I want it to succeed. Seeing it in action was a thing of beauty. It answers every question on how a drone could possibly be “easy access” for the standard consumer. It get so much right. The audio recording on your wrist, the auto slow motion when you make sudden accelerations up and down, the method of its takeoff (just throw it), and the fact it’s waterproof… The list of reasons to love the Lily keep going, and I hope it takes off with its success as quickly as it lifted off my palm. It should and has every right to be the #1 consumer flying camera on the market.