Is the GoPro Losing So Much Ground It Will Become Irrelevant?

GoPro Hero4 on a Wasabi Clutch Battery Handle

GoPro Hero4 on a Wasabi Clutch Battery Handle

I’ve been using GoPro Hero4 and GoPro Hero3 cameras for over 4 years now. Probably no other video capture device has transformed the way I shoot, and ultimately edit and share video than the GoPro action cam. It’s supremely portable, provides plenty of video options with multiple frame rates, video sizes, excellent manual and automatic shooting presets. You get great time lapse photo options and night-time extended exposure settings. There’s just a lot to love.

So why have I (and many of my GoPro fanatic friends) begun to shoot more and more with DSLRs, traditional camcorders and cell phones? Has the new just worn off the GoPro? Are the other options better? Is the GoPro a format that is long in the tooth and headed for the scrapheap?

Here’s what the GoPro Hero 4 (and I’m sticking to the Black Edition since it’s the high-end model) still has going for it:

  • It shoots great video
  • It is still the tiniest and most portable high-quality video device
  • There are almost limitless ways to mount the camera, so unique point-of-view shots are a snap
  • It’s easy to use in almost any weather situation (without buying accessory cases)
  • It’s easy to operate and understand
  • It’s fairly inconspicuous – which often makes run-&-gun shooting much easier
  • For what you get (balancing features and quality) it’s still a fairly affordable option

Here’s what seems to be motivating the move away from the GoPro

  • The convenience and continually improving quality of cellphone video
  • The easy of sharing video from mobile devices
  • The polished and creative look of mid to higher-end DSLR video
  • The fact that almost everything trendy you can do with a GoPro has been done – and it’s just not fresh anymore
  • GoPro is so slow to develop and market new and innovative products that the excitement is waning
  • The GoPro innovations that are being released (for instance the $5,000 Omni 360-degree camera array) are so expensive they are out of reach for the typical GoPro enthusiast
  • Aerial videography, with cheap high-quality 4K cameras, is providing satisfaction that goes beyond what GoPro is offering – and the GoPro drone just isn’t highly anticipated at all, given the many affordable options in the current market

What can GoPro do to inspire and motivate us to keep coming back?

First, I think they could listen. There are thousands of voices on YouTube and other social media outlets that are talking about what they’d like to see from GoPro – and there are some great ideas. I remember when we were all enjoying our Hero3s and there was so much excitement about what was coming with the Hero4. There was a huge amount of speculation about what the innovators at GoPro were going to bring our way. The Hero 4 was an improvement, with some nice new features, but still nothing groundbreaking. Do the GoPro developers live in a silo, and not monitor the buzz created by users?

Second, I think they could take a cue from the competition. Is there any reason a GoPro couldn’t be used for communication? Could it be fitted with alternate lenses that we don’t have to buy from the third party DIY crowd? GoPro has partnered with 3DR to allow for drone usage – but are there other partnerships that could be forged? Could the GoPro be modified for uses beyond it’s current scope? Could it be modified and synched-up to the web for high-quality security cams (like an Arlo cam on steroids)?

I’m still digging my Hero4, and using it constantly to capture content for my vlogs and personal enjoyment – but I’m hoping our friends at GoPro can generate a spark that keeps this little wonder from going the way of the Flip!

Tony Lee Glenn