Many fans of the action camera niche are eagerly awaiting the release of the GoPro Hero 5, and the device is also extremely important to the future of its manufacturer. GoPro needs some good financial news, after an extremely disappointing 2015.
There is no doubt that GoPro faces financial challenges in the existing climate, with sales and share price alike plummeting in recent months. Indeed, the action camera manufacturer has had to cope with a fall of 80 percent in sales over the last twelve months alone, with numerous factors contributing to this troubling statistic.
Analysts have cited previous product launches from GoPro that have been poorly timed and set at inappropriate price points. There has also been some confusion in the ranks of the GoPro range, and this is something that the corporation has already signalled its intention to simplify by eliminating some of the existing Hero models. The GoPro Hero 5 will play a further role in this process, as GoPro attempts to get consumers back onside with its flagship device.
Nonetheless, ahead of the release of the GoPro Hero 5, the figures for GoPro do not make happy reading. The action camera maker suffered a sales slump of 31 percent during the last quarter, to an annual $436.6 million, and the company also made its first financial loss for several quarters. The $34.5 million that GoPro lost in Q4 2015 was reflected in investor sentiment towards its stock.
The same story was also reflected in sales. GoPro was forced to endure stagnation in sales that must be a considerable worry for the consumer electronics competitor. Sales for the full year rose just 16 percent, falling significantly from 41 percent growth in 2014 and 87 percent growth in 2013. Clearly there is a seriously downward trend to the fortunes of GoPro, and this may not be over yet, as some market observers still predict that the share price of the company will depreciate a further 15 percent in the coming months.
Conversely, GoPro bulls believe that some of the forthcoming products that the company is planning will reverse the fortunes of the corporation. The Karma drone and the Hero 5 cameras are eagerly anticipated, yet GoPro itself has been reticent about releasing too many explicit details on either product.
Product lines simplified
What we do now is that GoPro will discontinue the Hero, Hero+, and Hero+ LCD cameras in April, with the intention of simplifying its product range. Once this process has been completed, consumers wishing to purchase an action camera from GoPro will have a choice between the Hero4 Session, Silver, and Black, with the GoPro Hero 5 presumably to follow pretty rapidly.
However, all that GoPro has stated publicly on the GoPro Hero 5 came from the company’s CEO, Nick Woodman. During a conference call, Woodman indicated that “later this year, we will introduce the most connected and convenient GoPro we have ever made, Hero 5”.
Industry murmurings, though, suggest that GoPro will wait for some months after the reshuffle in its product range before releasing the GoPro Hero 5. October is mooted as a possible release date for the action camera, with GoPro wisely targeting the 2016 holiday season. In the meantime, the corporation will hope to stabilize sales of its existing range ahead of the release of the next generation device. We could see the drone from GoPro rather sooner than this, with the company needing to fill the stopgap between action camera releases, and July seemingly ideal.
GoPro Hero 5 specs
Consequently, as GoPro has kept pretty quiet about the GoPro Hero 5, the specs of the new device are very much based on rumors and leaks. But it is expected that the manufacturer will ensure that the GoPro Hero 5 offers 8K video recording; a feature that would help future proof the device. 8K resolution is expected to be the next major development in visual technology, although as 4K has yet to truly establish itself as a mainstream format, this may take some time to come to fruition.
The GoPro Hero 5 has also been linked with a modish dual-lens setup that will be capable of capturing 3D images. Both of these aspects of the camera are potentially trendy, with numerous smartphones, including the market-leading iPhone, being linked with the dual-lens technology. And although 3D video has yet to catch fire, the movie industry keeps telling us that this eventuality is just around the corner…
Other predictions about the GoPro Hero 5 include an A10 processor and a 2,800 mAh battery. This would represent a pretty tidy upgrade from the GoPro Hero 4, which includes an A9 processor and smaller 1,120 mAh battery. Analysts also expect the GoPro Hero 5 to share a similar ‘ice cube’ visage as the Session.
Another vital aspect of the GoPro Hero 5 will be its apparent connectivity. The aforementioned Woodman has already described the Hero 5 as a “connected device”, and this will obviously play a major role in the way that the final product turns out.
This also suggests that GoPro might opt for a Qualcomm chipset when the device is released, which would be bad news for Ambarella, which supplies GoPro with its image application processors. However, this seems to be an area that GoPro will particularly target with its next generation action camera, and something that the corporation will tout as a major selling point of the GoPro Hero 5.
Nonetheless, despite the success of GoPro to establish its current status in the first place, there is no doubt that the corporation faces massive challenges in the immediate future. By its own admission, sales will tumble by around 50 percent during the current financial year, with a lack of new devices and softening demand hurting the company. The company also indicated that it would stop issuing quarterly sales guidance in future quarters.
But the company is also looking to the future with optimism. GoPro launched a 30-second commercial during Super Bowl 50 last weekend. Extreme sports featured prominently in the TV spot for the GoPro Hero 4 Session, and the company at least has an exciting GoPro Hero 5 to release into the public domain in 2016.