GoPro, the maker of robust video cameras beloved of backpackers and thrillseekers, has launched its only new product so far this year — an updated version of its Hero action camera — as it works to turn round its fortunes after production delays and a product recall.
The hardware maker, which floated in 2014 but has struggled to be profitable, promised a “more focused business” as it unveiled the Hero6 Black and also teased a 360-degree camera that will allow users to shoot virtual reality video but will not be available until November.
During a call with analysts on Thursday morning, Nick Woodman, GoPro’s founder and chief executive, described the management team as “weathering the storm over the past few years”.
“There’s no heroics involved, we’re just running a simpler, more focused business,” he said.
Mr Woodman said GoPro had slimmed down to 1,300 staff worldwide, more than a fifth less than its 2016 peak headcount. The company shuttered its media division late last year.
In early September, GoPro raised third-quarter revenue expectations, saying they would be at the higher end of a $260m-$310m range, but said the company would still not be profitable by generally accepted accounting standards.
“Rest assured we’re keeping our heads down, staying humble and realising we need to continue to execute,” Mr Woodman said on Thursday.
The fiddliness of filming, uploading and editing GoPro footage has limited its potential market, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley, a problem which the company has been trying to solve by introducing a free automated video editing app called QuikStories earlier this year.
To encourage users to share their footage, the Hero6 Black can upload video three times faster than its predecessor and has improved video stabilisation, meaning footage will be less wobbly. The company has priced the waterproof device at $500.
Mr Woodman justified the high price point of Hero6, which is $100 more expensive than its previous iteration and involved GoPro developing its own processing chip, saying that “it would be impossible to offer such a product for less”.
The premium Hero6 follows GoPro’s lean towards the higher end gadget market, where its Karma drone — which was briefly pulled from the market after battery problems last year — retails for about $800. GoPro abandoned its cheaper camera ranges in early 2016.
GoPro’s virtual reality Fusion device, which will start shipping in November and be widely available next year, is being priced at $700. It will face stiff competition from rivals including Samsung and Garmin.
Investor reaction to Thursday’s launch event was mixed — GoPro shares ended down 1.8 per cent at $11.48.
Last year, GoPro posted a net loss of $419m as revenues fell by 27 per cent, ending 2016 with $192m in cash and equivalents.
As the camera company has increasingly sold its products worldwide, Mr Woodman admitted its marketing had failed to keep up with its diversifying customers. “We used to be a little too white, a little too US-centric, a little too action sports,” he told analysts.