Nov 3, 2017 UPDATE: As GoPro awaits results from the release of the GoPro Hero 6, it seems that there is already some good news on the horizon for the manufacturer. The action camera producing company was recently able to announce some positive financial results for Q3 in 2017, with the company becoming profitable for the first quarter in quite some time.

“GoPro has turned a corner, restoring growth and profitability to our business. We are dedicated to growing as an innovative company, while being a vigilant steward of shareholder capital,” founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman commented.

“During the quarter we generated $47 million in cash and gross margins were 40 percent. Year-over-year, we grew revenue by 37 percent and dramatically reduced operating costs without impacting our product roadmap. We launched our premium-priced HERO6 Black with global on-shelf availability and strong critical acclaim. We are now focused on driving consumer demand to reach our goal of full-year double-digit revenue growth and non-GAAP profitability,” Woodman continued.

The results will be a huge positive for GoPro as it attempts to establish the GoPro Hero 6 as the defining action camera in the niche. Early reviews of the products have a certainly indicated that this is the case, and have suggested GoPro may have a major success on its hands. If this is the case then GoPro could yet reverse its flagging fortunes.

In a statement of intent, GoPro recently added Golden State Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts to its Board of Directors. It seems that the action camera manufacturer is determined to get back on track, after its meteoric rise to success. This positive news resulted in GoPro stock crossing above the average analyst 12-month target price of $10.08, changing hands for $10.34/share.

In other news, it seems that there will also be a new entry-level action camera released by GoPro in the early months of next year, with this unit sitting alongside the premium GoPro Hero 6. The Hero Session will be phased out as part of this process, with the CEO of the company indicating that the time is right for GoPro to move on.

“Demand for GoPro’s entry level Session was much higher than anticipated [this year], and will result in a sooner than expected end of life for this product,” Woodman said on the call, “but [this] identifies a significant opportunity for us to expand our market with a new entry level product slated for 2018.” This new camera will be one of “several new products planned,” Woodman stated.

With the early reception related to the GoPro Hero 6 having been rather strong, things are beginning to look rosier for the company going forward. It is generally acknowledged that GoPro produces the best action cameras available on the market, and its financial position may be about to reflect this reality.

October 27, 2017 – As GoPro looks to the GoPro Hero 6 to restore its flagging fortunes, reaction is now flooding in regarding the quality of this action camera. The fact that the company had established itself as a major tech corporation in such a short period of time is undoubtedly a major success story. But camera sales slumped by 26 percent last year at GoPro, representing the first ever annual fall in the shipments of technology from the manufacturer.

Supply and production challenges had delayed the release of the GoPro Hero 5, so it is reassuring for the action camera developer that the GoPro Hero 6 is finally in the stores. Delays last year ensured that GoPro failed to fully capitalize on at the critical holiday season, which almost certainly had a significant impact on its overall sales figures.

Indeed, the company itself concedes that more than 50 percent of its annual shipments are made in the second half of the year, with the Christmas period obviously central to this statistic.

GoPro has already declared to the Wall Street Journal that it has overcome problems what it experienced last year, and is now in a position to recover its market status. But there are big challenges for the GoPro Hero 6 from other major manufacturers going forward.

The relentless march of the smartphone has led to the big players in this absolutely huge niche seeking other more innovative ways to improve their devices’ functionality. This has meant that Google, Apple and Samsung have all produced smartphones that are capable of shooting excellent video. For example, the iPhone 8 is capable of shooting 4K video at 60 frames per second, which is equal to the capabilities of the GoPro Hero 6.

The GoPro Hero 6 Black has already established itself as a number one seller on Amazon, and the critical response to the action camera has been strong. But some consumers have criticized aspects of the action camera, with the device having already attracted no less than 20 one-star reviews on Amazon.com.

Among the problems that customers have encountered are paltry battery life, frequently freezing and overheating. The majority of reviewers have nonetheless praised the camera, and the image and video quality produced by the GoPro Hero 6 is generally considered to be market-leading.

However, the history of consumer electronics is littered with examples of products that were technically proficient yet ultimately failed in the marketplace. What often matters to consumers is delivering a good standard of performance at an affordable price point, and in this regard the hefty price tag of the GoPro Hero 6 could count against the action camera in the long run.

If GoPro is to succeed, it must convince the amateur hobbyist that an action camera is a sensible purchase, and this will be difficult to do when smartphones are now capable of shooting excellent video. There are some positive signs for the GoPro Hero 6, but the action camera series undoubtedly faces significant challenges in the future if it is to restore the company to its previously healthy market position.

UPDATE 10-18-2017: The release of the GoPro Hero 6 is obviously a critical one for its designer and manufacturer. The financial travails of GoPro are well-documented, and the action camera developer is looking for its recent drone technology and GoPro Hero 6 unit to have a positive impact on its future.

GoPro Hero 6 Black
Image Source: GoPro.com (screenshot)

Critical acclaim

Thankfully for GoPro, the critical reaction to the GoPro Hero 6 has been almost entirely favorable. The general consensus of opinion regarding this action camera is that it is an excellent piece of technology, with reviewers noting many positive aspects of the device.

There is no doubt that the GoPro Hero 6 significantly outperforms its predecessor in almost every department, with the image and video quality produced by the unit being particularly praised. This quality is certainly needed, as the recommended retail price of the camera is actually quite hefty.

Both customers and the critical community have been impressed by the stable, smooth footage that the Hero 6 produces, with the color reproduction and the contrast of this kit also highly regarded. With improved photography and superior shooting in darker conditions also praised, and the new high-frame-rate modes delivering outstanding slow motion footage, it is no wonder that the GoPro Hero 6 has received critical acclaim.

Weathering the storm

Yet the fortunes of GoPro have been less than stellar over the last few years. Nick Woodman, GoPro’s founder and CEO, has conceded that the hierarchy of the company has been “weathering the storm over the past few years”. Certainly the share price of GoPro has slumped from its lofty peaks, and the long-term future and revenue streams of the technology manufacturer are far from certain.

Perhaps due to the release of the GoPro Hero 6, though, some analysts are optimistic about the short-term outlook for the company. Joe Wittine of Longbow Research believes that GoPro shares have bottomed, and that the stock price of the company will begin to head upwards following the release of its latest action camera.

However, the $13 target that Wittine set for GoPro stock has yet to be reflected in the share price of the company. There has been little price recovery as of yet, with GoPro stock continuing to trade under $10. Whether the company can make a longer term recovery remains to be seen.

Drone collaboration

GoPro is also obviously hoping that users get on board with the concept of utilizing its Karma drone as a filming prospect. The Hero 6 Black is naturally compatible with the Karma device, and is seen as being a companion for the other major GoPro release.

Early impressions of shooting with the Karma drone are that it works surprisingly well with the GoPro Hero 6. This could open up a rich new niche for the manufacturer, as drone technology develops and becomes a more viable part of the mainstream in the coming years.

The GoPro Hero 6 (often stylized as GoPro HERO6 by GoPro) has recently been introduced, with the product being considered critical to the future of its manufacturer. In the action camera field, GoPro has built up a reputation as delivering some of the very best products available on the market. But its recent history has been characterized by revenue difficulties and a plunging share price. The GoPro Hero 6 is thus charged with playing a major role in changing the fortunes of GoPro, and demonstrating that the company has a viable future.

Overview

In order to impress consumers, GoPro has delivered an extremely powerful unit with the GoPro Hero 6, perhaps most notably ensuring that the processor included is able to deliver double the video frame rate of previous generations. It is a custom-designed GP1 processor that dominates this new unit, which has already helped create a favourable impression among those users who have purchased the device.

GoPro also boasts that its new action camera delivers improved image quality and dynamic range, while the performance of the camera in low-light conditions is also enhanced. There has also been particular attention paid to the video stabilization delivered by this system, while the resolution of the action camera is boosted as well.

The GoPro Hero 6 also benefits from a raft of new features, which include an all-new touch zoom, 3x faster offload speeds via 5GHz Wi-Fi, and waterproofing up to 33 feet. This last addition is intended to ensure that the action camera is durable in watery conditions, essentially making the device far more useful for divers, both commercial and amateur.

Thought has also been given to ensuring that the GoPro Hero 6 is as user-friendly as possible, and thus voice control is included in 10 different languages, and the QuikStories feature also provides some interesting functionality. With QuikStories enabled it is possible to transform videos into cinematic productions that can then be shared via the GoPro app.

Resolution

With 4K resolution becoming part of the mainstream technology landscape, GoPro has naturally moved to embrace this with the GoPro Hero 6. Thus, its latest action camera contender is capable of displaying 4K video at 60 frames per second, while also providing super-slow-motion video in Full HD at 240fps. The custom chipset included really helps out here.

Downloading footage to storable devices has also been made considerably more convenient, with this device achieving this process three times faster than previous releases. The emphasis with the GoPro Hero 6 is on delivering the best footage possible, and making this accessible in the shortest period of time imaginable.

GoPro Hero 6 Black
Image Source: PhotoRumors.com (screenshot)

Development

Although the new chipset and processor undoubtedly plays a major role in improving the GoPro Hero 6, the manufacturer believes that there is still room for this to develop. CEO Nick Woodman stated at a public event that the company hasn’t “completely unlocked the performance of GP1 yet,” which certainly offers hope for future releases.

Design

In terms of design, there isn’t a discernible difference between the GoPro Hero 6 and the previous release in the series. This means that the unit retains its discreet appearance from previous versions, with the build pleasingly compact. The two-inch touchscreen on the rear of the device is intended to allow videos and photos to be essentially replayed. The plastic frame of the device is also rather steady, enhancing the durable reputation that GoPro hopes the device will establish.

Video and photography

The developer believes that the GoPro Hero 6 is a revolutionary camera in terms of both video and photographic production, delivering truly outstanding results. And the ability of the camera to shoot video at 240 frames per second at full HD is possibly even more impressive than the 60 frames per second 4K video on offer. This camera definitely captures action incredibly successfully, and probably with a quality that has never been seen previously in this niche.

Image quality

Image stabilization has also been souped up massively, ensuring that even the most inexperienced of photographers and videomakers can capture slick footage and images. The technology involved here crops images to ensure that shakiness is eliminated. And the improved dynamic range ensures that the quality of images captured both indoors and outside is vastly improved.

There is a warmth to the images and video produced by the GoPro Hero 6 that impresses, with the actual camera also having the capability to distinguish and separate colors with more aplomb. One slight criticism that has been made in some quarters is that color noise is more noticeable with this camera than previous releases, at least when the sharpening function is turned on. However, this can be negated with some tinkering.

GoPro Hero 6 Action Camera
Image Source: GoPro.com (screenshot)

Offloading footage

Traditionally it has been difficult to offload footage captured by the GoPro Hero series due to the vast file sizes involved along with compatibility problems with older smartphones. GoPro has considered this weakness of the range seriously, and thus has delivered a new system which supports High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). This effectively halves file sizes, ensuring that both transfer times diminish and the internal storage of devices is less compromised.

Early testing of the device indicates that transfer times have increased by around 300 percent, which is obviously a massive improvement on previous generations. What was once a genuine bugbear of the GoPro Hero range can now be considered something of a strength; an excellent achievement for the manufacturer.

Touch screen

However, the touch screen included in the device has not received universal praise, with some suggesting that the system remains fiddly, and that the GoPro Hero 6 sometimes struggles to recognize certain swipe actions. The performance of the user interface and some of the menus also leaves room for improvement.

Nonetheless, it is essentially a sensible decision to move away from the button-based menu system of previous releases, considering the number of options now available to users of this camera. But the actual operation of this technology is less than ideal, and this is certainly one area in which GoPro can make improvements in the future.

Price

Although the GoPro Hero 6 Black represents a significant improvement over the previous generation, it also attracts a much higher price tag. With the new action camera retailing at $500, this means that this technology will set you back $100 more than its predecessor. This 25 percent price hike can certainly be considered significant, and it will probably dissuade certain consumers from opting for this state of the art device. Peripherals and accessories are also expensive, and this means that many will opt for the cheaper Hero 5 Black.

Nonetheless, there are lots of practical features included in the GoPro Hero 6 that make it an excellent purchase even for casual videomakers.

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