GoPro is facing a bit of an existential crisis as it starts to contend with other wearables — like the Snapchat Spectacles — cropping up to capture moments in peoples’ lives that they can share with their friends.
So GoPro needs to basically find ways to get the footage it captures on its cameras on the internet as fast as Snapchat can, without having to do any major editing. And that’s going to be the goal of the company in 2017, with products in the pipeline that will enable GoPro users to transmit the most interesting footage to their smartphones and share it with their friends instantly.
“It’s about removing the friction points for the consumer,” GoPro CEO Nick Woodman said on the TechCrunch stage at CES this year. “They don’t want to take the time to copy everything over — some do, but [some] don’t want to take the time to learn the app. They would just like to be able to capture [footage and upload it].”
Collapsing that distance and time is going to be critical if GoPro is going to find a way to be more attractive to a broader audience outside the die-hard sports and thrill-seeking enthusiasts who have typically used its cameras. Now, GoPro is looking to produce software that can figure out how to gauge what are the most interesting moments based on cues and sensors in the device, and make that easier to share with their friends, Woodman said.
“We haven’t launched this feature yet,” Woodman said. “You could shoot footage with your GoPro, use our app to copy it to your phone, and then the app takes seconds to edit. You could be talking about a couple minutes for this to happen. If you use algorithms we’re developing to identify what are really interesting moments, you’re only having to copy those interesting moments not the whole file. It can be a matter of seconds for this to take place.”
GoPro has had a rough year, with its stock in free-fall and public markets rapidly tempering their expectations for the company that was supposed to define capturing exciting moments in peoples’ lives. That’s still the goal of the company according to Woodman, to be sure, but it also means that GoPro has to narrow its focus to make those core products simpler and better. It’s doing that by trying to launch a drone, and building products that make that capture easier with things like the Karma Stabilizer.
So, instead of being a camera company, GoPro now thinks of itself as a smartphone accessory company, Woodman said. So that’s the angle of GoPro headed into 2017. It’s laid off 15 percent of its workforce and reset its expectations. And it’s re-launching its Karma drone after the product was recalled 16 days after launch because of a battery issue (which you can apparently fix by taping it down).
“Being an accessory to the computing device in every consumer’s pocket is A-OK with us,” Woodman said. “All of our consumers can be creative on the go with a GoPro if their GoPro automatically offloads from the camera to the smartphone — something coming later this year — and then the app automatically edits that for you. You could decide whether you want to review it or if you believe the app is good enough at making great edits it can auto share.”