GoPro has been in the news this week with the announcement that it was pulling out of the drone segment and with buzz that the company could be up for sale. Also, at CES 2018 the company launched Fusion, a new 360-degree camera with OverCapture software that create multiple, fixed perspective frame videos from one spherical video. Indianexpress.com‘s Nandagopal Rajan spoke to GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman about what makes his company tick and his plans for India.
What are your plans for India, how has it been so far and what next?
We are really excited to grow awareness for GoPro in India. We think India is a terrific market for GoPro and our mission is to help people capture and share their lives in exciting ways and celebrate the human experience and their passions. We know India has very passionate people, very colourful culture, both literally and figuratively, and there is no question GoPro has a place in India and will be relevant to Indian consumers.
We are selling in Reliance, Croma, Flipkart, Amazon… and we are looking to triple our business in India in 2018. The Hero 5 Black is selling well in India and with the latest price reductions we are really excited about the impact it can have on the Indian market. We have an exciting, new entry-level product for first half of 2018, which we think is going to be perfect for the Indian market based on the data that we have.
We are also excited for the content that is coming from Indian consumers. One of GoPro’s main purposes is to help the world celebrate. Through GoPro we get to learn people’s passions in different parts of the world, their cultures, and this way GoPro helps the world gain a better understanding of itself. We are excited to see the sights, sounds, colour and the energy coming out of India through the eyes of Indian customers.
Is that going to be very different as GoPro is considered an action camera and in India it might end up being a wedding camera?
GoPro is more of an activity capture solution, action is a subset of activity. If GoPro was an action camera we would not have been as big. Most of our users are capturing activity and not action. We believe that people buy solution and not things and GoPro is a solution for helping people capture their more active and passionate experiences. For example, take a wedding. Do you want to be standing on the side filming the dancing or do you want to be dancing with a GoPro with you in the experience? GoPro enables the ultimate selfie. Very few people know that the selfie was born out of people’s use of a GoPro.
When GoPro launched on the scene, smartphones did not have front facing lenses. GoPro does enable the ultimate self documentation, the wedding and the experience. The difference between a GoPro and a phone is, the phone is a great camera for capturing other people doing things, while a GoPro is great for capturing yourself immersed in that activity with friends and family. Indians’ passion for weddings and celebration is a phenomenal opportunity for GoPro to succeed in India.
Immersive video seems to be the buzzword at CES this time. What are your plans with the new GoPro Fusion camera?
I was asked if an everyday consumer wants a 360-degree camera and I said no, I don’t think it is a 360 camera consumers wants, I think consumers want an incredibly convenient way to capture and share their lives and want that footage to look mind-blowingly beautiful and professional. If it happens to be a 360 camera that enables that, they will buy that. Our vision for spherical cameras is that they can be the most convenient, versatile and easy to use cameras in the world as you don’t need to aim them, the video stabilisation is incredible, and the application identifies interesting scenes, pulls them out of the spherical video and edits them into a short story for you.
That type of capability and convenience is where the cameras are going in the future. They will cease to be standalone pieces of hardware and will becomes hardware and mobile application experiences. This is critical because the reason a consumer buys a camera is not for the thing, but for the amazing video or photo they want to share. Today, a GoPro enables the capture of otherwise impossible perspectives.
Software has always been a critical part of your offering. With the new OverCapture, do you think you have solved the problem with 360-degree video?
We are starting to solve it. It turns out that consumers, prosumers and professionals all value OverCapture and the ability to create really engaging and creative traditional videos out of 360-content as opposed to being excited about video. VR is one of the things Fusion can do, but consumers are more excited about fixed perspective video. Fusion is an entirely new type of camera, calling it a 360 camera does not do it justice. It is the most versatile camera ever made. You can use it as a traditional camera, as a stabilised camera, as a spherical camera for VR and an omnidirectional lens that can be used for making traditional video. It is really a Swiss Army knife of cameras that has never existed before.
It seems everyone is getting into your activity camera space. But do the other companies have a chance? Especially the bigger players? What are they doing wrong?
The reason GoPro has fared so well against competition is the strength of our brand coupled with the strength of our products. We have a magic combination of a brand and product quality that surpasses most people’s expectations. Consumer products rarely meet expectations, let alone surpass it. One of our goals has always been to harness the power of WOW… literally make our customers says WOW.
When you do this, you are exceeding one’s expectations and empowering the brand with word of most advocacy. Our competitors are more makers of things and GoPro is more focussed on helping our customers celebrate their lives. There is so much more emotion and energy in helping them celebrate and than in selling them things.
Are you done with drones or is that something you will revisit?
We are still selling the Karma and still very proud of it as it is definitely the most versatile drone. But we are not investing in the development of a next generation GoPro drone. The reason for that is that though it has been a commercial success for us, when you look at the amount of money we need to invest in drone development along with the number of drones we ultimately sell versus the GoPro cameras we sell, it is clear that a majority of our customers do not want to buy a drone from us. We are investing our time and money in building want our customers want to buy from us.
Disclaimer: The author is at CES 2018 at the invite of Intel