How Did GoPro Lose Their Focus?

GoPro makes great cameras, but they've lost their focus
GoPro makes great cameras, but they’ve lost their focus
Image Credit: superidoljp

Wouldn’t it be great if when you are out and doing all of the exciting things that you do, rock climbing, surfing, hiking, etc. if you could somehow capture the moment in a photo? Sure your cell phone has a camera on it, but it’s not really up to the task of surviving a lot of the rugged things that you find yourself doing. What you need is a specially made camera that can take a beating and still keep on working. This is exactly what the company GoPro was founded to create. They’ve done it; however, now they’ve run into some financial problems and it’s going to be up to their product managers to save the company.

How GoPro Got Into Trouble

GoPro has made a line of cameras that they call “Hero”. These cameras have been popular and lots of people who go outside and do things have bought the cameras because of their rugged design. However, as all product managers know you can’t just release one product and hope that people will keep buying it forever. You have to keep updating your product development definition.. This was the case at GoPro. The latest product that they’ve rolled out is called the Hero4 Session.

This latest camera was amazingly small. It is roughly the size of an ice cube. This new camera was originally priced at US$400. However, it has not sold well and the company has been forced to lower their price. The price is now at US$199 which is approximately one-half of the original retail price. The product managers who were responsible for establishing a price clearly didn’t do a good job. This is not going to look good on someone’s product manager resume. The belief is that there is also an ongoing overall slowing in the market for wearable products like the GoPro cameras.

GoPro was originally founded in 2004. Its owner was a surfer who wanted to be able to share pictures of both him and his friends while they were surfing. In order to do so, he hobbled together a camera that he made waterproof and more rugged. The popularity of the images that they were able to capture showed him that there was a market for this type of camera. Six years after starting the company, GoPro landed its first big customer when Best Buy ordered their camera product.

How Product Managers Are Going To Save GoPro

Clearly GoPro is in some serious financial difficulties. The value of their stock has dropped over 80% over the past year. They have recently had to announce a surprise loss in the most recent quarter and they are telling investors that they should expect their sales to decline for the rest of the year. If this company is going to be saved, then it’s going to be up to their product managers to pull it off.

Clearly sales of their latest camera, the GoPro Hero 4 is not going to be enough to turn things around for the company. Sure, there will eventually be a Hero 5, but that could be a long time off and it may not be able to save the company either. One of the things that the GoPro product managers have noticed is that as people have started to step away from putting cameras on themselves and taping their actions, they have not stopped creating videos. Instead, they seem to shifting their attention to drones. These flyable contraptions can often hold a camera and transmit images back to the person who is flying them. This seems like it was made for GoPro cameras, now the product managers need to create and market their own line of drones.

Another angle that the GoPro product managers may choose to follow has more of a focus on content. Some of the video that has been captured with people using GoPro cameras is fantastic. There are a number of different media companies that would like to be able to broadcast this video. However, discovering that the video exists, getting in touch with the people who shot it, and creating a licensing agreement with them is just too much work. The GoPro product managers want to act as a middle man and collect all of these videos and then take care of the process of licensing it to media outlets. This could be a great business, if they can get it off the ground.

What All Of This Means For You

The explosion of popularity of “selfies” clearly shows that people like to take pictures. Lots of pictures. People who engage in outdoors activities are no different from anyone else, but for the longest time they didn’t have a camera that could That’s why the company GoPro created their Hero line of rugged outdoor cameras. For a long time they were a successful company, but lately they have fallen on hard times. It’s time to check the product manager job description and determine what can their product managers do to save the company?

There are a number of different reasons that GoPro finds itself in difficult financial circumstances. One reason is that consumers are starting to pull back from buying wearable electronic products. Another is that the product managers appear to have overestimated how much people were willing to spend to buy the company’s latest product: the Hero 4. Going forward the product managers are going to have to find new sources of revenue. These sources may include introducing a line of drones or finding ways to license video content that GoPro users have shot using the company’s products.

The good news here is that there does not seem to be a fundamental problem with the GoPro product. The people who buy it, seem to genuinely enjoy using it. However, the market is not growing fast enough to support the company. The GoPro product managers are going to have to get creative and find new market segments that can use their product. If they are successful in doing this, then they can save the company. Let’s watch and see if they can keep GoPro in the picture!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What other niche markets do you think that the GoPro product managers should be exploring?

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