Tree climbing looks set to follow the marketing route adopted by rock climbing equipment manufacturers with company sponsored athletes - see the Petzl/iClimb video above (you'll recognize some local faces).Up until recently there has been an unspoken stand-off between the top tree climbers and the tree climbing equipment manufacturers regarding sponsorship. This is largely due to a conflict of ideals.
Top climbers want to mix 'n match their gear according to their personal preference and climbing style. They do not want to be dictated to by an equipment manufacturer who often demands total commitment to their particular brand.
This 'total' commitment' sponsorship model works well in mature markets where innovation is down to the tweaking of existing products and the equipment manufacturers themselves are well established. An example of this model would be the Black Diamond athletes inclimbing and skiing.
But in terms of market development, tree climbing is at the other end of the spectrum.
Equipment is developing at such a pace, a tree climber locked into a sponsorship deal might find they left behind if their particular sponsor ceases to innovate.
Having said that, there does reach a time when climbers and manufacturers must work together either in sponsorship or product development (or hopefully both). And it looks like that time as come!