Today GoPro has become another name for action cameras. But did you know that this more than a billion-dollar company today, started its journey as an experiment of a young man? And do you know this billion-dollar company is now suffering because of some bad business moves? So if you want to know all those facts about GoPro, then this article is just for you. We will discuss how GoPro came into the market, why it became so popular and why it is now falling.
The journey of GoPro started back in 2002, when Nick Woodman, the founder of GoPro, went on a surfing trip to Australia. And while surfing, he realized that there is no easy way to shoot his memorable surfing moments. So he started to think about solving this problem, and came up with a rubber band in which he connected his 35mm camera to shoot his action moments and attached the band to his wrist. But there were some obvious issues. First of all, it was not a very secure setup. Besides, it was difficult to surf around with a camera on the wrist because of the weight.
Nick quickly sensed that there is a market for these types of cameras for shooting action and high-paced moments. So Nick borrowed money from his parents and other sources. Then he approached a Chinese manufacturer to buy some cheap and small waterproof cameras to use for his purpose. Those cameras were as cheap as 3 dollars. Nick managed to attach a wrist strap to those cameras to make them more convenient to carry around. Once the product was ready, he then used to sell those wrist cameras for about 30 dollars to surfers and action-loving people.
In those days, Nick used to live and sell his cameras in a VW van. His approach was kinda direct selling in which he used to go to surfers and shops to sell those cameras. And in the first year, he was able to collect a revenue of about 150,000 dollars.
The Growth Stage
The first big opportunity came when Nick participated on QVC in 2005 and within 10 minutes, Nick was able to sell about 3000 pieces of GoPro cameras. So during that year, GoPro made a profit of about 306,000 dollars.
Till then, GoPro could only shoot images, not videos. The first GoPro video camera was first introduced in 2006, the GoPro Digital Hero. It could record videos for 10 seconds at 320 by 240 size. This video capturing GoPro also caused the revenue to surge.
2007 came with the GoPro Hero 3. It was able to go around 100 feet underwater. Until 2009, GoPro was the only player in the market which offered a small yet high-end video recording device. Hence, it was a perfect camera device for everyday users. Plus, the waterproof construction also made it an action camera for adventure lovers. But in 2009, GoPro had a new rival, the iPhone 3gs. It was small, easy to use and it had video. Then, there were flip cameras which also posed tough competition to GoPro. Still, the GoPro had its appeal as the best action camera in the market.
In 2010, GoPro realized that it had to level up its video capturing ability and it released GoPro HD hero which could shoot 1080p videos. And in 2011, the only major competitor of GoPro, the Flip cameras, discontinued their business. And when Nick was asked about his opinion about Flip cameras giving up their business, Nick said : “Evolve or Die”
But who knew that GoPro would suffer for not being evolved to catch up with the trend. That’s the story we are going to cover later.
So things were good and dandy for GoPro. In 2012, the revenue surged to almost 526 million dollars. As the action camera market was booming, big players like Sony, JVC, and others also came up with their action cameras. But GoPro already established itself as an unbeatable brand for action cameras. It had blog sites and channels which were full of all the exciting videos of action-loving people. Other competitors can’t make much of a difference in the action camera market. For the next couple of years, GoPro enjoys increasing revenue, and here’s a chart. And if you see closely, the revenue started to fall after 2015. So what happened during that time which caused the revenue to fall?
The Down Curve
In 2015, GoPro released the GoPro hero 4 session, those little cube-like cameras were different from what GoPro was producing previously. They were so much like the polaroid cameras that polaroid sued GoPro for copying their product. Moreover, the hero 4 session was around 400 dollars, much higher than the price of polaroid. And because of all the lawsuits and higher price, the hero 4 session got a bad image in the market and almost seemed nobody would buy them. Hence eventually, GoPro had to come up with a price cut, which resulted in a loss of about 13 million dollars.
In 2016, GoPro also launched the GoPro Karma drone. At that time, the drone market was largely captured by DJI. However, DJI didn’t have a drone with a small form factor to carry around in a backpack. And GoPro Karma introduced a foldable design that was easily portable. At almost the same time, DJI released its DJI Mavic pro, which was even smaller than Karma. Plus the Mavic pro had obstacle avoidance which Karma lacked. Moreover, the Mavic pro was less expensive than GoPro Karma.
Still, the user was excited about the karma drones until they found bugs that caused karma drones to fall from the sky without any reason. People were posting about their broken karma drones. And things got so out of control that Nick had to recall all the karma drones from the market.
Because of the financial loss, GoPro laid off about 270 employees in 2017. This also caused their share price to plummet. 2017 had some more bad news for GoPro as its action camera was also challenged by Yi 4k cameras. Yi cameras were cheaper than GoPro and had more features, and thus gained enormous popularity in the market within a very short time.
GoPro also launched its fusion 360 camera in 2017, But the market was already dominated by Ricoh and others. In 2018, GoPro got rid of its entire drone division which caused about 250 people to lose their jobs. And Nick himself reduced his salary to 1 dollar to reduce the cost of the company.
The latest news of GoPro shows that the company has been facing severe sales decline because of the CoronaVirus pandemic and laid off more than 200 employees.
Remember once Nick woodman said, “Evolve or Die”? Well, GoPro has been trying to evolve through business diversification. It Tried drones, 360 cameras, and other businesses. But nothing seemed to work well for them. GoPro failed mainly because of a lack of research in its process. Surely, Karma was a failure. GoPro could further probe into the issues with karma and relaunched it. But instead, it jumped to the 360-degree camera business while wiping off the drone division completely. That was all about the history and present situation of GoPro. Do you think that GoPro still has the chance to evolve? Or will it die in the future?