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Can VR jumpstart GoPro?

With virtual reality riding an unprecidented wave of popularity, the tech firm is looking to re-invigorate sales with a new, $5,000 360 camera.
August 11, 2016

GoPro, the tech brand best known for its UGC action-adventure content and equipment, is the latest in a field of competitors to launch into the fast-growing virtual-reality market.

The company’s new Omni camera, which will officially begin shipping Aug. 17, incorporates a rig made of four GoPro Hero4 cameras, and is shipped with a copy of stitching software that allows users to create full 360 videos in an editor like Premiere Pro or Final Cut.

Priced at $4,999, the Omni is one of the most expensive consumer models currently available. By comparison, LG’s new 360 model sits at $199, while the four-lens Bublcam is $800.

GoPro has had a rough ride financially in the past year with sales falling below targets and a reduction of 7% of its workforce (roughly 105 people) in Q4 2015.

The company recently released its Q2 financial results for 2016, indicating it has not yet reversed that downward trend. The company pulled in just over $220 million in revenue over the quarter, just over half of what it rang in over Q2 2016. However, with both equipment sales and GoPro app downloads up this quarter over last, CEO Nicholas Woodman predicted a return to profitability by Q4.

“GoPro is well-positioned for the second half of the year. We now have a simple product line, a clean retail channel and clear indications of strong consumer demand,” said Woodman in a statement.

In the last year, GoPro has made numerous moves to boost sales, including partnering with Twitter to enable direct live-streaming to the Twitter-owned Periscope app (so users can live-stream footage from GoPro cameras, rather than risk grabbing the shot with their more fragile mobile devices). It has also partnered with Red Bull to become the exclusive provider of footage for all of Red Bull’s upcoming branded extreme sports events.

It made its first foray into VR when it partnered with Google to launch the Google Jump, a camera system that involved 16 Hero 4 cameras mounted to a central rig for simultaneous shooting. However, the Google Jump was not made available commercially.

Cashing in on a more wildly available VR camera could prove a significant boon to the company as the market for VR content is currently on a rapid upward trajectory. VR prodcos such as NextVR, Felix & Paul and Vrse have all recently drawn millions (and in some cases, tens of millions) in investments.

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