The future of GoPro with Founder & CEO Nick Woodman

by W. Andrew Powell
Nick Woodman, GoPro CEO

GoPro is so synonymous with action cameras that they’ve became a verb. GoProing really became a thing because they led the field with cameras that could practically go to extremes and capture stunning videos. So what does the future hold for the company?

During CES 2020 in Las Vegas, GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman sat down for a fireside chat with media and bloggers to talk about the future of the company and to answer questions, and he offered some surprising comments along the way.

While Woodman didn’t reveal any new plans for specific products, he did have a lot to say about their goals in 2020, and what makes their current lineup of devices so notable.

“For so many years we were building the brand and building the products, and getting up to speed with technology, and trying to get the product experience and the technical performance to match the ideal of the brand,” Woodman said.

“GoPro has inspired people with this idea, and this ideal, that we could help you capture your lives and experiences in this really exciting, eye-popping, high-quality, wow way, that only a Hero camera–and now a Max camera–could enable.”

“The reality is, for many, many years, the brand was actually ahead of the product experience–ahead of the technical capabilities of the camera and just where technology and digital imaging was at the time–and I think with Hero 7 Black last year, that was the first time that I’d say a Hero camera actually matched the ideal of the brand, and that was really exciting.”

GoPro Hero 8 Black

“[S]o whereas Hero 7 Black matched the brand, Hero 8 Black and Max, I believe for the first time, are pulling the brand.”

Woodman considers the current lineup of action cameras to be the best on the market, and based on their market research, he said that consumers agree with him.

For the future though, Woodman and GoPro are focused on serving other users, and they don’t necessarily need to be customers who own a GoPro camera.

“Our research shows that a lot of fans of the brand would love to use our software if we made it more relevant to them, so you should expect more features like that, that cater just to the general smartphone user,” Woodman said.

“That’s part of our strategy to expand our total customer base by making GoPro more relevant. In the past, we focused on ‘How do we get you to fall in love with our cameras?’ and now we’re more focused on ‘What is it that you’re trying to do, what tools are you already using, and can we leverage software to help you with that?'”

“If we can just build a relationship with you purely through software, then we see that as a win. That’s a shift for us as a company. You’ll start to see that from us this year.”

Shifting the company focus does not mean that GoPro is going to stop making action cameras though.

“We’ve got to keep reinventing ourselves every year–we know that. But the success we’ve got now, we’re going to use the platform to try other things. Sometimes we’ll get it right, sometimes we won’t, but the key is to keep innovating and to try new things and doing a better job of identifying ‘what’s your use case, and do we think that we can bring an innovative new approach that adds value beyond whatever camera you’re using now.'”

“If the answer is no, we’ll look for another customer segment where we can create meaningful solutions, and then we’ll go after it.”

As one example of how the company has evolved, GoPro Hero 8 Black, which was on display at CES, offers modular accessories, making the system ideal for users who need to be able to add on a light, microphone, or screen for different situations.

In the future, Woodman said they are not set on what form factor they will use for new GoPro cameras either.

While Woodman was quiet about what design, look, or features could be in their next camera, he said, “It’s time for GoPro to expand and to be more relevant to more people, but whatever we do, it won’t just be to sell something that somebody else is already doing. It will be to invent something new to help you in new ways that no one else has done before.”

Watch some of my favourite highlights from CES 2020:

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