GoPro is to look beyond the company's range of Hero and Max cameras in the future as it aims to offer its software editing and capture solutions to smartphone users and beyond.
"So much as possible through a mobile application today," explains Nick Woodman, GoPro's CEO and founder in a one-to-one interview with Pocket-lint at CES 2020. "I think GoPro now has credibility as a capable and competent software developer, which you couldn't say two or three years ago."
Woodman, who has been at the helm of the action cam company since he thought up the idea in 2002, believes that the next big frontier for GoPro is offering the software it created for its Hero range to smartphone users:
"We're already developing so much of this for a GoPro camera owner, that we recognise we should open this up and make it more of a powerful and exciting solution for smartphone users," adds Woodman. "We're really excited about this."
The hope, says Woodman, is that the company can expand the number of people that it can serve and use the smartphone apps as a stepping stone to the fully-fledged action cameras the company offers.
This is a move that's been evident to any GoPro user over the past few years, as the company has incorporated new features into its main GoPro app.
Features like Quik Stories, which can automatically import footage from your GoPro camera and create a quick edit in time with music and automatic transitions and effects, but also lets you select clips from your phone's camera roll. It's made editing as easy and automatic as you want it to be, but with plenty of control for those who know what they want.
The move will be seen by many as a refocus from the company following a disappointing IPO in 2014 and a failed Karma drone launch in 2016 that saw drones unexpectedly fall out of the sky, something that Woodman himself acknowledged.
Data rather than gut
"You have to be very engaged with your customers and listen to what the hell they're saying to you," he explained during the interview for the Pocket-lint podcast. "In the early days a GoPro we could get away with imagining on behalf of the customer: because the category was so new, the customer didn't even know what they wanted. But I'd say about the time of Hero 5 that really changed, and the customer really had a keen sense of what they wanted."
Admitting that GoPro was a little slow adapt, Woodman believes the recent success of the GoPro Hero 7 and 8 ranges is down to the change in attitude:
"We were a little bit slow for a couple of years to shift from being the company that said, 'hey, we're going to innovate based on our gut' to a company that today uses a tonne of research and data to make product decisions on behalf of the customer. I think that's why you're seeing the resurgence of GoPro and breakthrough hits like Hero 7 last year and now this year Hero 8 and Max - they weren't accidents, they were directly informed by our customer input."
Customisation through modular add-ons
Add to that the new modular-based approach to the GoPro range and Woodman has even higher hopes for the company. "Customisation is key because we can't build everything our customers want into the camera itself because then it becomes too expensive for everybody."
The plan, Woodman says, is to continue the modular approach of the new Hero 8 model as it allows users to customise the device to their needs without GoPro having to try and build everything in for everyone:
"Using a GoPro is going to become an increasingly tailored experience for our customers."
Launched with the GoPro Hero 8 model, the new GoPro is about adding different modules to the core camera experience to make it better suited to the task at hand.
So far GoPro is offering a bolt on light, an additional screen for selfies, and a media mod that adds a mic and two cold-shoe mounts to attach other kit making it more suitable for the YouTuber rather than a surfer.
"This approach gives the consumer a chance to tailor each GoPro for their own particular needs, and then it's pretty exciting when you think of where it can go, because we see ourselves as designers of the world's most versatile cameras. And you need only use your imagination to imagine through a modular approach just how versatile we can make these products."
That said, the modular approach isn't for everyone - even Woodman admits that, given the choice of any in the range, he's opted for the Max, although he did confess that he feels a little guilty because of it:
"I use a Max exclusively, which I'm really excited about because it's so new. I do feel a little bit like I'm cheating on the Hero 8, but my footage looks so good, so I'm fine with it."
You can listen to the full interview on the Pocket-lint podcast available now.