CES 2017: GoPro Going Slow On Consumer 360-Degree Camera

LAS VEGAS – Action-camera maker GoPro (GPRO) is in no rush to release a consumer 360-degree camera, despite the proliferation of such devices on display by rivals at CES 2017.

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman told IBD late Thursday that the company is developing a surround-video camera for average users, but the market hasn’t developed enough yet.

Many companies at the four-day CES show, which ends Sunday, were showing off 360-degree video cameras designed to make videos for playback on virtual reality headsets, such as Facebook‘s (FB) Oculus Rift and Samsung’s Gear VR. But the installed base of VR headsets is still pretty small.

GoPro is already selling multi-camera rigs for professionals who want to produce surround-video. Those rigs include the Omni, GoPro’s synchronized six-camera spherical array, and Odyssey, GoPro’s 16-camera panoramic stereo array.

“We have consumer spherical cameras in development,” Woodman said. “We are learning from Omni, our six-camera rig. Obviously that’s not intended for consumers – it’s a $5,000 rig – but it’s doing phenomenally well with professionals. So we’re learned a lot there.”

GoPro’s software team also is the industry’s best at spherical video stitching and editing, Woodman said.

“Consumer interest in spherical (image) capture and interest in VR is still quite early,” he said. “We can see that from sell-through numbers from NPD and GfK data that shows it’s still in its infancy, so we’re not missing out on anything there yet. But when we do enter the market, we’ll help establish it.”

Meanwhile, GoPro is trying to put a challenging 2016 behind it. Last year, the San Mateo, Calif.-based company was hampered by a confusing product line-up and a recall of its new Karma flying-camera drone, among other things. But GoPro stock fell 3% in the stock market today to 9.07. And it fell more than 50% in 2016.

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“We did have a bit of a rocky year in 2016, which is a shame because we launched the best products in the history of the company,” Woodman said. Those products include the Hero 5 camera and the Karma Grip stabilizer for zero-shake, Hollywood-smooth videos.

On Wednesday, GoPro announced that the Karma drone will relaunch later this year. It will provide further details in early February. GoPro withdrew Karma from the market in November 2016 after a small number of instances of power loss due to a mechanical issue related to securing the drone’s battery.

GoPro also announced updated versions of its Quik mobile and desktop video-editing apps and GoPro Plus, its cloud subscription service that enables Hero 5 cameras to auto-upload a user’s photos and videos to the cloud for easy mobile access and editing.


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