GoPro Looks To Capture New Users With Simpler, Smaller Camera

Those of you who are adept at free-diving in Tonga and dancing with whales presumably had no problem figuring out how to operate your two-button GoPro Hero4 Silver or Black. Now GoPro is releasing Hero4 Session on July 12 — a smaller, one-button camera for the rest of the market.

“GoPro is positioning the Hero4 Session as a camera for users who want something lighter than the Hero4 Silver or Black, but who don’t want to give up much when it comes to features,” reports Daniel Terdiman for Fast Company.

In fact, at half the size and 40% lighter, it’s appealing to some existing users, too. “I think it’s going to be probably one of my secret little weapons,” pro mountain biker Aaron Chase tells Terdiman. “… [A kayaker told me] he could put it one of the fishes’ mouths.”



Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” yesterday, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman said: “I think that Session is the perfect camera for existing GoPro customers that want an additional GoPro to capture additional perspectives of whatever it is that they love to do. And for new customers, this GoPro is so easy to use that we think its size and simplicity is going to be really appealing.”

While other standalone camera sales have been devastated by the continually improving ones embedded in smartphones, GoPro posted a 54% year-over-year gain in revenue in April, reportsTime’s Alex Fitzpatrick.

The company “has positioned itself as the go-to brand of choice for the so-called ‘action cameras’ — tiny box-shaped gadgets with ultra-wide lenses that can be attached to helmets or handlebars for hikers, bikers and climbers to get rad selfies for Facebook and Instagram,” he writes.

USA Today’s Jefferson Graham has an interview with Woodman that’s illustrated by a photo of the founder — reportedly the highest paid fish in the CEO ocean last year with a package worth $248 million — with the Hero4 Session clutched between his own teeth.

“His hope is that being so small, folks will shoot even more video with it,” Graham writes. “The goal was to make ‘the smallest, lightest, most invisible capture solution for customers,’ he says. ‘If we make it so small, so light and so convenient to use, you never ask yourself, do I want to pick the GoPro and go use it?’ ”

But “GoPro’s ability to drastically shrink the size of its popular Hero camera may not be the breakthrough its investors are looking for” cautions Dan Gallagher for the Wall Street Journal’s “MoneyBeat.” It’s stock price fell more than 2.5% yesterday after the announcement. 

“In a report last week, a team of Oppenheimer analysts noted that it took them three-to-five hours to boil 20 minutes of captured video down to a 1-minute clip,” writes Gallagher. But “the company is testing new software to improve this experience,” Woodman said in the CNBC interview.

Also coming up: a 16-camera set-up that will work with Google's Cardboard VR device to provide 360-degree immersion and a drone with a built-in GoPro, Jefferson reports.

Reviewing the device for Wired, Brent Rose writes that the Hero4 Session is too pricey — $400, the same as its “second-best” camera, the Silver — given that its video quality is “two generations behind the times.” 

But Rose is very positive about the handful of new mounts that will also be available next week. His favorite is the The Strap, “(a.k.a. the Ironman, unofficially). It’s very versatile and allows you to attach your camera to your hand, leg, arm, wrist, foot, etc.,” he writes. 

Chris Brinlee Jr., who was invited on a press preview junket in Vail, Colo., last month, writes a review for Gizmodo that’s worth every penny of the accommodations and meals GoPro provided, as he discloses.

“To start with, the Session is small. How small? Ridiculously small. Just under an inch and a half in every direction. In fact, it’s 50% smaller (and at 3.1 oz, 40% lighter) than other Hero4 cameras,” he writes. “On paper, that may not sound like much, but when you’re 35 feet off the ground, swinging between obstacles in a high ropes course, it’s nice not to feel like you’re wearing the extra weight.”

Then, using The Strap, there’s the spear-fishing video he shot off Santa Cruz Island over the past weekend while others were voraciously downing hot dogs — a more popular, but decidedly unhealthier and tackier, use of YouTube to promote a brand.

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