Author(s): Raghu Gopal
At an event last week, GoPro announced its GoPro Developer Program, a project to help other companies incorporate its cameras into their products. It unveiled the program along with various partners including BMW, Fisher-Price and Polar. It also introduced a new Works with GoPro stamp-of-approval label that partners can use.
Several implementation examples were shown at the launch, including a BMW app that turns a GoPro into an advanced dashboard camera, tracking speed and location as well as providing video. Toy company Fisher-Price demonstrated a very different use, mounting the camera onto a child's walker allowing parents to capture — a bit intrusively some might point out — a baby's every step. A company called Timecode Systems has developed an app to synchronise GoPro cameras for integration into professional television and film workflows.
In reality, the program is not completely new; it has been operating quietly for over a year and GoPro says that more than 100 companies have been participating, using the dedicated software development kit. But its public introduction should lead to an array of supporting apps for smartphones, allowing GoPro cameras to become accessories in the mobile environment.
One example of this was shown by Spanish operator Telefonica. It demonstrated an app called Xtreamr that allowed multidimensional video to be streamed live using a GoPro camera for capture and a smartphone for connectivity.
GoPro, in its quest to go beyond its core audience of sportspeople and adventure-seekers, is teaming up with major brands and new developers. We see this as a positive move to extend its reach and give users more reasons to choose GoPro. But these are uncertain times for the company and its investors as it faces growing competition. And unlike smartphones, which consumers in the US have historically upgraded every 22 months or so, the market for action cameras doesn't enjoy the same cycle of repeat purchases.
Expectations were high for GoPro when the company went public in mid-2014. Its share price tripled in a matter of months with the belief that it was in the process of creating a larger ecosystem, pulling together hardware and video content. It remains to be seen if its new developer program will gain support from a new, dedicated market segment. At a time when smartphone makers are introducing their own external cameras, including some supporting 360-degree capture for creating virtual reality content, GoPro might find the present environment challenging.