Key takeaways

  • GoPro announces developments in two significant new areas: drones and virtual reality.
  • The company has teamed up with Google to create Array, a rig for recording 360-degree films for virtual reality.
  • The move is a significant next step in satisfying millennials’ drive for sharing content in innovative new ways.

Despite an Initial Public Offering in 2014 that saw GoPro valued at just under $3 billion, there has also occasionally been a ripple of concern about its long-term prospects.

Was the creator of the ultimate action-sports camera going to prove itself a one-trick pony?

With growing competition from smartphones installed with increasingly better quality cameras, GoPro was always faced with the prospect of being outdone in the camera market. Now, it is set to move its offering forward… or rather, up and around.

Speaking at media and tech conference Code earlier this week, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman announced that the company is set to develop products in two significant new areas: drones and virtual reality.

He revealed that GoPro has plans to create camera-enabled drones that would be available to consumers as early as the first half of 2016.  This continues in the company’s spirit of adventurous content creation by capturing extreme sports footage, or indeed any other type of footage, only this time from the skies.

Investment in virtual reality

Having seen other companies such as Facebook/Oculus, Microsoft and Google investing in virtual reality (VR), Woodman has also decided that VR has a promising future and that the time is right to secure GoPro’s position in this space as well.

At the conference, Woodman unveiled the Six-Camera Spherical Array, a cubed mount that holds six GoPro Hero4 cameras, enabling shooting of VR videos.

This video, taken at the same conference, demonstrates the results of a 3D video shot with GoPro (please note it needs to be viewed in a Chrome browser):

Shortly after, Google revealed Array, a device built by GoPro that can hold 16 cameras, stitching their 360-degree recordings into one video.

Google released its own demonstration video:

When processed through Google’s Jump software, the resulting footage can be uploaded to YouTube for viewing on a VR headset – which includes something as simple as Google Cardboard, a fold-it-yourself box that, combined with certain phones, allows the user to experience virtual reality.

These new developments mean that the ability to create 3D content is being pitched at a market known for its love of extreme photography.

The root of GoPro cameras lies in its founder’s desire to share footage of himself surfing during a trip to Australia. He developed the technology in response to this wish, forming a company ultimately defined by the fact that its content bore witness to the most radical of life’s sporting adventures.

“It is about lifestyle and not hardware”, said Woodman of GoPro after the company’s IPO.

Content is a driving force

The fear that GoPro must compete with the technology of smartphones in order to remain successful is therefore arguably misplaced. Woodman’s vision for GoPro is as a content creation company, not a camera manufacturer.

Millennials are an adventurous, collaborative and socially active demographic – and this applies to how they consume products, not just how they live their lives.  As customers that would buy GoPro cameras, drones or its virtual reality devices, they’re not just buying cutting edge hardware, they’re buying the ability to create and, more importantly, share cutting edge content. Their driver is not necessarily to own the latest device, it’s about sharing their latest experience.

In an ecosystem where technology can be outpaced quickly and competitors can emerge from unlikely places, knowing which way to steer lies in an acute awareness of what your customer seeks. And these days, it’s not just about what comes in the box.


Tan Allaway

Tan Allaway is a former editor of PwC’s Digital Pulse.

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