GoPro struggles

Coming from Costa Rica and going to school in Boston, has helped me to appreciate other cultures even further and to enjoy traveling even more. As a millennial that likes to stay active in social media, I have opted for sharing my experiences through the lens of my GoPro. GoPro started as an action camera designed for extreme sports but it has become something much more than that. Nowadays it is becoming trendy to share short lapses of your day in Snapchat or even an instant in Facebook or Instagram, but sometimes that is simply not enough when you want to share a life changing experience such as a trip to a different continent or your time when you were studying abroad. For me, editing videos filmed with my GoPro was not only a creative way to share my life with others but also an entertaining and informative way to encourage others to explore the hidden corners of the world. I started off with videos of Costa Rica to show others what a great destination it is for adventurous activities, and to see the wildlife in the tropical rainforests or at the beaches. Then I recorded some urban scenarios when I first got to the States to begin college, and finally travels through Asia while I was studying abroad in Hong Kong. Luckily, the feedback I received from friends wasn’t terrible and some of them actually decided to take up the challenge to study one semester abroad in Asia because they liked what they saw in my videos.

One week ago I came into a news article from Business Insider saying that GoPro is having a hard time achieving profitability so they had to lay off 270 full-time employees and their stock suffered a 76% fall since their IPO value in 2014. They managed to cut costs which increased the value of the stock by 15% to $8.53 on Thursday. The company is optimist that they will be able to cut costs even further, but Jerry Liu from Morgan Stanley says that, “While we are encouraged by further cost cutting, we are not convinced GoPro can achieve profitability this year yet.”

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CEO Nick Woodman says that the company recognizes their error:

“We failed to make GoPro contemporary and failed to align GoPro to the smartphone movement,” Woodman said.

http://www.businessinsider.com/gopro-woodman-smartphones-competition-2017-3

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Even though smartphone cameras cannot truly capture all the clips that can be recorded on a GoPro. Consumers who are using their cameras on a daily basis (and not for an extreme sport) usually prefer convenience over anything else. Also, current models have become less user friendly as they have removed the back screen so you cannot longer see the picture that you are taking in the moment unless you are connected to the GoPro app, and that brings additional difficulties if you are traveling and do not have time to spare setting up the camera. Furthermore, the karma drone has failed to overcome competitors as the product do not hold a competitive advantage on features, and the company had to recall 2,500 units that lost power in the middle of the flight. Considering that the company made $1,185M and still managed to have a loss of $419M, it is reasonable that CEO Woodman has decided to shift focusing on growth to costs. However, as a GoPro enthusiast who is hoping for the company to do financially well and continue producing more exciting gadgets, I would like the company to focus on feature development for two kinds of consumers: travelers (or casual users) and extreme sport athletes. Although the company was originally meant for athletes and their marketing revolves around extreme sports, they do have to realize that many, if not most, of their customers are regular people who just want to take selfies on their pole while doing something fun.

In order for GoPro to continue boosting sales, they will have to realize that they are competing against smartphone cameras that are getting much better with time, and if they do not manage to keep up with changes in the market, they will (sadly) end up as the next Kodak in the photography industry. Personally, I would really like seeing GoPro partnering with other tech companies to see their products on more devices such as cellphones, tablets, etc. In my personal opinion, recording on my cellphone will never have the same benefits  as the experience of using the GoPro, so I do see optimist in the future of the company if they manage to lower production costs and adapt to the customer’s demands.

10 comments

  1. Great post on a company whose performance has been under a lot of scrutiny lately. My experience with GoPro has been similar to yours-I strongly believe the videos and pictures taken on GoPros are much higher quality but usually the convenience factor of using my smartphone results in me only using GoPro when I am traveling or doing a notable activity such as skiing. This seems to be the trend with most consumers and has been a main driver in GoPro’s struggling performance (and their other blunders didn’t help matters). I am interested to see if the company is able to recover from this going forward by finding ways to deliver unique value to consumers that smartphones cannot match.

  2. I don’t personally own a gopro, but several of my friends used them to record their travels studying abroad much like you. I think it would be smart of them to separately target people who use it for action sports and people who use it for leisurely videos like you suggested. The fact that they’re trying to change and accommodate the massive use of smartphones could help them to get out of this financial hole that they’ve dug themselves. It just goes to show how a tech company that looked so promising just a few years ago can start to fail so quickly with how fast technology advances

  3. Really interesting to see GoPro’s growth, or lack there of, in the recent years. I think you had a great analysis of the company not moving with the times and adapting to consumers’ needs. I have seen many people who are not extreme athletes but, like you, just want to use GoPro for recreational purposes. The challenge that they, and I, have faced is that setting up your GoPro and obtaining the video after use takes more effort than we are used to with our smartphones. I will admit to leaving my GoPro at home at times when I did not want to deal with the extra steps. If GoPro could partner with more companies, making their technology more seamlessly integrated with other products and services, I think they will have a better chance of recapturing lost market share.

  4. GoPro was the camera that sparked my interest in photography/videography. You’re right – at the time they came out, the HERO set the bar for a new standard of photo/video capture accessible to the every-day consumer. The camera coupled with their marketing campaigns really set off a buzz in the action sport photography community. Given their first mover advantage in the space, when news of the companies under performance started spreading, I faded the market and bought a bunch of shares — unfortunately, I since watched them tank lower than I thought possible. It’s my worst buy to-date. You hit a couple of key points in your post – the first being that they’ve been too slow to evolve with market trends around the smartphone. The attempt at creating a drone is a huge risk given the intense competition – and although they have some good ideas revolving around adaptability/compatibility, I don’t think drone products will serve as their lifeboat.

  5. I think it’s great that you highlighted on a company that has a large inclination for your personal life, and it is unfortunate to see the decline that GoPro is going through. I personally do not own a GoPro, but the pictures and videos that I have seen are truthfully amazing. I think GoPro needs to reposition itself as more of a niche product rather than trying to compete head on with smartphones. GoPro definitely struggles with the convenience factor, so therefore needs to strengthen its speciality features and develop attributes that can only be unlocked through GoPro. Great analysis and writeup!

  6. Great post! I think you’re spot on with the criticism that GoPro has this huge gap between the market they try to segment themselves into and the people who just want a selfie stick camera. What is also interesting with this whole competition is the idea of Moore’s Law as it applies to how often you’re going to buy a new iPhone compared to buying a new GoPro. Camera quality will always improve, but are you wanting to spend $400 on a new GoPro every two years or will you just piggy back off of your necessary iPhone purchase.

    On a side note, I tweeted this video out earlier this year but thought it applies directly to your article so I wanted to share it again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPwK5fN4Qfg&t=20s

  7. Love this post. I’m a big GoPro user too, and I also documented my study abroad travels through edited GoPro videos, which I felt were a great and realistic way for my friends and family to see what my life was like in Australia. The question about profitability that you address here were kind of what I was going at with my Twitter poll a few weeks ago about whether GoPro or Instagram should be worried about Snapchat spectacles. I still love my GoPro, but as technologies and cameras change and get better with time, it is getting easier and easier to take cool, high quality pictures videos at a much lower cost. For example, the iPhone 7+ ‘s new camera might take down some of the DSLRs. I am very curious to see where this industry is headed, and I hope GoPros and DSLRs don’t go away for good.

  8. Really interesting post. I’ve been doing video projects since the first GoPro came out and have worked with every model up until the most recent one. I’ve always loved using them but the one issue that always held me back was that it seemed like so much money for a product that’s requires a lot of effort to put the good footage in an easily shareable form. Having to connect the camera and then use an editing software to color correct or play with the speed never seemed worth the effort left alone easy to do for the average consumer. I’ve always wished for a more direct link for GoPro to push content to social media with an optional extra step to edit the footage in a custom app. I really hope they move in this direction. I think in the near future we’ll see a race between GoPro and Snapchat to a middle ground with a GoPro ecosystem that’s more social like Snapchat, and a Snapchat offering that’s more sophisticated and hardware-based like GoPro (Spectacles v5.0?).

  9. Awesome post- I also found Duffy’s comment enlightening. I think it’s fascinating to hear a firsthand experience about how GoPro has negatively impacted someone I know financially and how it has distorted their perception of the company. I wonder if the problem GoPro is suffering, down 76% since IPO, would be similar to companies like Uber and AirBnB had they gone public. Especially with all the public scrutiny Uber is under (as we spoke about in class) I am sure the stock price would take a hit as a result. It will be interesting to see in the coming years if/when many of these Silicon Valley Unicorns go public- how the stock market will react. I have a feeling that if they do not innovate fast enough (similar to GoPro), it could cause serious financial complications. An example of this would be what Prof. Kane mentioned in class regarding Snap’s major technology breakthrough simply being spectacles. In order for these companies to live up to their sky-high billion-dollar valuations, there is plenty of work still to be done.

  10. Nice post, Jose! I have a GoPro but barely ever use it; the fact that I need to use my phone to man the device makes it seem super obsolete to me. They definitely need to find a way to integrate with smartphone technologies in a way that makes their video capture process more intuitive for the user, as opposed to more cumbersome. I think it’s still a great tool for folks who are open to spending a little extra time to set up and edit their videos, but if they want to be competitive on the mass market they need to start designing down to the lowest common denominator of the simple uses that the average person wants.

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