Dear Go Pro, what’s up?
What the future awaits for Go Pro?
I’ve to say that I don’t follow Action Cameras as close as I do some other tech but from afar I think that I can at least grasp a bit about it.
A few years back Action Cameras market exploded and it created this new segment for cameras. With the Point & Shoot market disappearing, Cellphone cameras taking over and getting better and better, there was a gap to be explored, a camera that you could take anywhere and shoot videos in situations that you wouldn’t with any other camera.
I know that there are rugged and waterproof cameras but clearly they didn’t fit the bill. Mirrorless and DSLR are too bulky and they certainly cannot be attached to any helmet and corner as easily as you can with an Action Cam.
Go Pro was, and in some ways still is, the big name of this market but the thing is, the market is not the same. There is still a niche for Action Cams but it’s certainly not as hot as it once was. In the meantime, we saw another segment growing and also reaching consumers, the Drones.
Go Pro’s Reign
While Go Pro was just comfortably reigning and doing nothing else, the Yi Action Cam also happened. At first it didn’t look as good but for the price, it was a bargain. But people hacked the Yi Action Cam and pumped up the codec’s bitrate and the quality increased considerably. Enough to top the Go Pro counterpart.
After that Yi came up with the 4K version of its camera and it seems that they will allow every user to take advantage of better bitrate without the need of hacking. Not just that but Yi Action Cam has a pretty good mobile app to play with.
Go Pro recently announced the Go Pro Hero 5 and it uses the same old sensor as the Go Pro Hero 4 whereas the Yi 4K Action Cam feats a newer and better sensor. So not only the Hero 5 is coming later, it’s more expensive but it has an older and worse sensor too?
I don’t understand what’s up with Go Pro, what has Go Pro done during these years? Nothing really. They came up with a cubic camera that is basically a Polaroid Cube rip off and nothing else worth mentioning.
I don’t get it.
Go Pro Karma
The Action Cam market started to shrink, why haven’t Go Pro showed something new? They waited the market really show signs of slowing down before they decided to finally invest in something else, a Drone.
The Drone market is pretty mature and full of options and now, of all times Go Pro decides to bring their drone? Where were they a couple of years ago? Then Go Pro Karma got a massive recall because some of them were falling off the sky.
Ok, the Go Pro Karma is a system that not only integrates the Go Pro cameras but also their gimbal and drone but as interesting at that could be, it’s not. I also don’t understand the lack of sensors of the Go Pro Karma, most drones in the category are packed with sensors or at least a few proximity sensors.
Being able to fold was one of the highlights of the Go Pro Karma drone and it looked pretty nice compared to the DJI Phantom 4, but just a few days later DJI announces the DJI Mavic Pro, a truly portable drone and it knocks the Karma out of the sky.
Some would talk about the advantages of the Go Pro Karma, it’s flexibility, how the Mavic Pro has a narrower field of view but that’s losing sight of the bigger picture.
How will the Phantom 5 look like?
DJI is doing Sony iteration of products since they already announced the Phantom 4 Pro a few months after the Phantom 4. It’s an improvement over the Phantom 4 except the form factor, which is basically the same. It has more sensors and a newer and much better 1" sensor camera.
Can you imagine what a Phantom 5 could be? Without much imagination I imagine a fusion between Mavic Pro ability to fold plus all the feats the Phantom 4 Pro already have, maybe even more.
If DJI really wants to destroy Go Pro Karma they could integrate Phantom and Osmo into a single system but the truth is that as much as I would find that interesting it’s not a must have feat for most drone pilots. Sure it’s convenient to have a camera that can be used on both a gimbal and a drone but in the end it’s two different needs and two different markets. Most drone people don’t need a gimbal and vice versa.
So the Go Pro Karma is bigger than the Mavic Pro, certainly not as good of a drone than the Phantom 4 Pro and it will probably be much worse than the Phantom 5. For now, the only advantage is that it can be carried in a smaller pack than the Phantom 4 Pro and it has more flexibility at its side. But it’s sitting right between consumers and prosumers/professionals, that’s the worst market position you could choose from.
For the consumer wanting an easy solution, a portable drone, the Mavic Pro is a much better choice and for those that already work with drones, to have the feats the Phantom 4 Pro is much more advantageous despite the Karma being a bit more portable. And again, if the DJI comes with a foldable form factor design for the Phantom 5, adios Go Pro Karma. It’s not like it’ holding it’s ground now but that would put Karma to bed with a shovel and I’m not sure what could Go Pro do after that.
I’m not a drone user as of now and the main reason was that not only it wasn’t a high priority for me but I wanted something that was easier to operate and much more portable than the drones we had out there and the Mavic Pro is exactly that. I would love to have one for b-roll and aerial shots, I don’t mind its narrower field of view or not having as many feats as the Phantom 4 Pro but it’s really portable and I could carry it anywhere.
What the future awaits for Go Pro?
In the beginning of the year Go Pro had already laid off part of their employees and a few days ago a new batch of employees were let go. Although they said that it was for “Restructuring to Reduce Operating Expenses and Improve Efficiency” and that “Consumer demand for GoPro is solid” and ”we are headed into 2017 with a powerful global brand, our best ever products.”, it’s kind of clear that things are not going THAT well. I mean, when things are going well, you will hire people, not lay them off.
Let’s say that DJI doesn’t really bother with having a Drone, Camera and Gimbal system, you would have to spend a bit more but with a Mavic Pro, Yi Action cam and a Zhiyun gimbal you would be good to go and in a much more portable set.
If you are not that much into extreme sports you could even spend a bit more and get a Sony RX100 or Panasonic LX10, both pretty good vlogging cameras, with the LX10 you can even record 15 minutes of 4K — instead of just 5 with the RX100. And possibly buying a Phantom 5 if it comes with a foldable design.
Some would see this as a harsh article over Go Pro or something but it’s just that I really don’t understand how did Go Pro get into this situation. Why didn’t they innovate when they were at their peak, why did they sit so comfortably on top of a niche like it would last forever?
It’s basically how you shouldn’t do business. As I said, I don’t follow this segment that close so I might be missing something that happened in between but from what I can see, Go Pro was very imcompetent in recycling themselves and adapting to the new days, they couldn’t innovate when they should had, they couldn’t do what they did when Go Pro first showed up.
They failed and unless they can really do something about it, they will be swalled by it and disappear like Kodak and Polaroid — without the same history, of course.