GoPro Outlines Four Distinct Camera Types for 2022, Plus New Cloud/Desktop Features

Earnings call season is among us, and that means plenty of interesting tidbits to be had. By far, the most interesting earning call to date in the sports tech segment was GoPro’s Q4 2021 earnings call yesterday, where GoPro announced they plan to more than double their camera lineup in 2022, and then expand it further in 2023.

And by ‘lineup’, we’re not talking just a new budget GoPro, but rather at least one very distinct new camera targeting professionals, and then another distinct camera targeting some other group.

Now in the video above I dive into all the notable quotes, which is easily more than half of this entire earnings call with them outlining the use cases and scenarios for these new cameras. However, the key bit starts off towards the beginning, when CEO Nick Woodman says:

“At the end of 2022, we plan to increase our hardware offering from the two product types we have today, HERO and MAX, to four distinct camera products. And we expect to expand that further by the end of 2023. This is in addition to the aggressive road map we have planned for software, including new cloud capabilities and an all-new subscription-based desktop application.”

This fairly loaded three-sentence chunk basically outlines what he’ll detail over the course of the remainder of the earnings call, especially (or really entirely) via the Q&A section. And ultimately, it’s best divided up into three pieces:

A) The plan to go from two cameras to four cameras
B) Expansion of cloud capabilities, notably around in-cloud editing
C) The re-introduction of a desktop app, but with some subscription component

Now for the first one, GoPro then spends significant time explaining that they aren’t talking about just having secondary GoPro Hero models like in the past (e.g. a GoPro Hero 10 Black, Hero 10 Silver, etc…), nor are they talking about retaining previous year models like they do today at retail (Hero 10, Hero 9, Hero 8 all available as options). Instead, he makes it very clear that they see those cameras as basically targeting the same use cases, just at different price points with minor differences:

“And so without going into detail about the products themselves, if you look at our good, better, best strategy that we used to have, that was three different price points of the same camera. And the camera got higher resolution, higher frame rates, maybe some additional features as you went to the higher price point product.

But by and large, they were very similar, and they were built for the same use cases. So you were attracting the same customer, but just they might have been an entry-level, mid-level or high-end customer but at the same customer type. Going forward, we think it’s important to build very differentiated specialized solutions for different use cases to appeal to entirely new groups of users that have new needs that a HERO camera maybe solved, but maybe it’s got some other aspects to it that are undesirable for that use case, and the user doesn’t need all these other things that the HERO camera does. And so it ends up being more than they need or not enough of what they need.”

From there, he outlines how essentially the same camera a YouTube vlogger uses, is one a scuba diver uses, and then one a film production uses. It’s literally the same thing. Yet, the needs are in many ways quite different. And that’s all true – especially the fact that these cameras are used routinely on major products and sets. Sure, they aren’t the a-roll for the entire movie, but they fill in the gaps in scenarios that are otherwise impossible to film with a larger camera.

“And I make it a point to mention consumer and professional because I think it sometimes gets missed that GoPro’s are used by professionals the world over, whether it’s for film, television, their own commercial purposes, their own research purposes. We just won our second Emmy.”

And this is where he goes on to make it clear that a pro-level camera is coming:

“You guys deserve that recognition and got it. But it’s not a good, better, best strategy. It’s use case A, B, C, D, E, F, G, all very different from one another. And rather than make one Swiss Army knife that does it all for some people, some people want specialized knives.

And that’s what we’re going to build for them.”

And this type of tiny camera at a higher level isn’t new. The Sony RX0 series, for example, has been around a number of years, but never entirely caught on. The 2nd gen was better, but ultimately, the series suffered from marketing confusion. It desperately wanted to be an action cam for marketing purposes, but simply wasn’t a good action cam. Internally though, it was far better suited to production scenarios that required a tight fit. For example, mounting in the front of a car (I believe I’ve seen them on Car Karaoke with James Corden), and getting very high quality, even allowing uncompressed 4:2:2 output to external recording devices. Same goes for direct mic inputs, and higher bitrate options. That’s been priced at $700, though, it’s three years old now.

Which, gets to payments. It’s clear that a pro-level camera from GoPro won’t be cheap. During the call, Nick Woodman goes on a bit of a discussion about the higher margin opportunities by using a single baseline foundation for their cameras, and that these are all derivatives. In fact, he even pauses to specify his use of that word and why he’s using it. But again, a higher-end camera will cost more:

“And we need to do things that they have been asking for, for years that we just can’t get done with a HERO camera due to certain physics constraints. But if we make an entirely new camera based on HERO camera technology but we break the mold in terms of like what the cameras form and purpose is, we can deliver for these people. And they’ve indicated that they’re willing to pay even more for these types of specialized solutions.”

Of course, enough about pro stuff. As noted, GoPro says four “distinct” different camera types. My guess is they’d be divided up as follows:

A) Pro Level Camera
B) GoPro Session Redux
C) GoPro Mainstream camera (e.g. a Hero 11)
D) GoPro Max 360° camera (e.g. GoPro Max 2)

This would be a pretty obvious reading of the situation. There’s clearly a market for smaller cameras, like the Insta360 Go 2 and the DJI Action. The challenge has been that both companies have somewhat fumbled their implementations, seemingly making mistakes that were own-goals.

Insta360 is the closest with perfection, but just made some odd decision choices that make the camera clunky for wider adoption (I outline those in-depth in my previous review). While DJI got closer in theory with their Action 2, but also fell short in execution. For example, not having waterproof microSD card slots and USB ports, meaning they are heavily limited in what you can actually do with the camera due to very short real-world battery and storage run-times – and extremely bad overheating times (4-6 minutes in certain cases…).

Undoubtedly, GoPro is looking at these scenarios and saying “We can do that better, since we only need to not screw up two things: Storage and battery”. And it’s true. I think if GoPro took the bulk of their Hero 10 software and dumped it into a DJI Action 2 camera with a Hero Session battery/SD card door, people would be thrilled and happy. Sure, GoPro will still have to contend with heat issues, but I think they’ve learned a lot from their fiasco this past fall.

This type of Session camera would heavily appeal to the FPV community, which has been literally tearing apart GoPro Hero 10 cameras, because they want the quality/stabilization without the size. Despite Insta360 making a dedicated version for FPV, it just hasn’t seen the adoption of GoPro cameras, likely because of the GoPro quality.

Meanwhile, on the cloud front, he talks a bit about what’s coming there, saying:

“The good news is we have that technology in the app already with our automated edits. And this year, we’re going to be porting that in all of the manual edit tools to the cloud and providing for a much more automated experience where you plug your GoPro into charge, it uploads all your footage to the cloud. We push you a highlight edit of all of your photos and videos that you just captured before you finish your beer. So that type of convenience is coming later this year.”

Though, that section is prefaced with some caveating around also appealing to higher-end users, saying:

“They want to see more automation and convenience. The experience is really well tailored for what we would call users that are higher on the passion curve and are more interested in doing some of the work. They’re the more creative types, this is a hobby or a profession for them, but are more mass-market, mainstream casual users. As you can imagine, they just want it to automatically work for them.”

However, the wording on the earning call transcript is a little weird above. The actual earnings call audio hasn’t been posted yet, so I can’t hear precisely where the pauses are there or maybe a missed word, as the above sorta confuses those two concepts. But, based on the vast majority of the call discussing the pro use cases, and the middle portion here discussing the prosumer use cases, I’m pretty sure the intent is clear.

Now, this is where I’d make the case that GoPro really needs to think about these scenarios – and not so much just doing the minimum bar, but surpassing it. A production company that has a dozen GoPro’s wants easy ways to get footage off of cameras. They’d love to either plug them in to USB-C power to get footage uploaded to a central repository via WiFi (like a NAS server), or, even better would be the ability to use a USB-C ethernet adapter of sorts that could do the same over high speeds. How cool would a simple accessory be that both provided power to the camera, and offloaded that 256GB+ of content super quickly from a dozen cameras?

Lastly, GoPro made brief mention of that desktop app earlier:

“…and an all-new subscription-based desktop application.”

As you may remember, GoPro had their Quik desktop software, though in recent years it’s basically been abandoned. However, GoPro surged development of their mobile app, and expanded their focus beyond GoPro users. In fact, they added a boatload of non-GoPro users. Check out this line from the call:

“Our Quik app subscription, which we launched in spring of 2021 for mobile users who do not own a GoPro camera, grew to approximately 221,000 subscribers by year-end.”

And those are just the non-GoPro camera peoples. Here’s the totals:

“Our direct-to-consumer efforts contributed to the addition of 815,000 new GoPro subscribers in 2021, bringing our GoPro subscriber total to approximately 1.6 million at year-end, representing very strong growth of 107% year over year.”

Anyways, as for what we’ll get on desktop – that remains to be seen. GoPro says it’ll require a subscription though, so I assume it’ll be focused on editing automation, akin to what Quik does on mobile. Given how well things have gone for them on mobile for non-GoPro users, this would be an obvious area to expand reach.

Which, seems to be the general sentiment of the earnings call – expanding reach and into newer markets. If you’re into this sort of thing, you can read the whole transcript here. It’s fascinating how much detail is in this one, compared to most earnings calls. I can’t remember the last time we’ve seen any sports tech company get this deep into their otherwise unannounced plans before. I suppose Peloton’s much-anticipated earnings call next week might rival it though, if for no other reason than them being heavily on the defensive and likely having to demonstrate they have a clear financial plan going forward.

With that – thanks for reading!

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31 Comments

  1. Paul S.

    The one thing that GoPro doesn’t have that Garmin abandoned with its cameras/software is the ability to overlay metrics on video (what Garmin called “GMetrix”). If that could be done on the desktop or in the cloud (or even with a camera that pairs with sensors and so can do it internally as it records) that’d be awesome.

    • Hey Paul, we are working on making that easy for GoPro users with Pulse. Currently supporting some basic metrics but working with Pro athletes to create sport specific metrics! (https://www.pulselive.tv)

    • Paul S.

      Maybe you should go to Garmin and ask if you can buy the code base for VIRB Edit (Lord knows they’re not using it any more). VIRB Edit is currently the single best way to add metrics to GoPro video. Unfortunately, it doesn’t understand what to do with Time Warp video, which is my favorite mode on my Hero 8, and it probably doesn’t support many modes that GoPro cameras now support. But that kind of functionality, with user definable templates and multiple gauge types to choose from is the kind of thing I’d like to see. GoPro’s video quality is so much better than my VIRBs (360 and Elite) that I don’t miss the metrics that much, but having both would be even better. Attaching a FIT file to a video in the cloud and then being able to get back a video showing metrics with the template I choose would be fantastic.

    • Ah yes, I remember VIRB Edit well 🙂

      We’re working on the ability to supplement the GoPro telemetry with external files. We just shipped the first version so will quickly follow-up with more gauges and modes for different sports. The hard part getting and processing the data is done 🙂

      Hmm, I need to experiment a bit with Time Warp video! Off to go shoot some test content. Cheers!

    • Hiro U

      If GoPro rebuild and release DashWare for ease of use, I can switch from VIRB EDIT, which is no longer updated.

    • Grecko

      There is also link to goprotelemetryextractor.com
      but it’s not free. Seems well made, I was doing some research to develop an overlay app like this and this one stopped me in my tracks when it was released in the end of 2020

    • Paul S

      I’m not willing to spend 99 dollars to experiment with it at the moment, so it’d be nice if they offered some kind of trial. It’d also be nice if GoPro made arrangements to include this or something equivalent in their subscription.

    • Armand P.

      @Grecko @Paul

      Greckon – Juan from TelemetryOverlay do offer a free trial. It’s an amazing product with incredible support if you are looking for purely overlaying telemetry on video! Highly highly recommend checking it out! I use it for experimentation all the time.

      We’re more focused on the community aspect of sharing sports, and showing the rich telemetry is a part of sharing that real experience.

  2. Fabio Mux

    i Love the session 5 and i really hope for a new one.

    @DC Rainmaker; Question: I’m a amateur photographer so i love pics more than videos. When i’m out with the bike i use a ‘good’ smartphone (ok i know is not a reflex!) but i don’t like to bring it with me when i run (too big). What’s the best solution for good pics and an IP certification ?

    thx

    • usr

      I’m with you in that tiny niche of a market segment that is people looking for a device in the gopro form factor range that is aimed primarily at stills. I barely keep up with filtering out the quality subset of my stills, no way I would ever do video post. Would love to see Gopro throwing something that way, as unlikely as that might be.

      I’m on the RX0, it’s really awesome and awful at the same time for that one-handed snapshot while riding use case. The obvious one is lack of OIS, just like gopro all their IS efforts go to eliminating vibration between video frames, nothing about the time within a single frame. The not quite so obvious one is the fixed aperture that sits right in the middle of that no-man’s-land between the fixed focus of gopro and the DOF of serious stills cameras. The RX0 really needs focus, but the autofocus is struggling. I’d assume that contrast detection works much better when you can go wide aperture while searching for the focus point? The RX0 would probably benefit a lot if it had phase detection AF. Actually I’d even settle for something as primitive as focus bracketing, just fill that microSD with a focus series like AF guess then infinite then 6m then 1m as long as I keep the button pressed or something like that. For my needs, the use case for exposure bracketing is basically dealt with by jpeg+raw.

  3. Heiko

    i am looking forward to their new desktop software, *maybe* i would even be willing to subscribe if it‘s excelling at „okay results with few clicks“-edits. I simply lack motivation, skills and time to do proper cutting and therefore liked the old quik software. I always thought it was a mistake to go all-mobile.

  4. A pro level new line sounds good but i doubt it will be a success. Sticking with what you are good at, might be a wiser decision. Especially in this economical conditions.
    But we’ll see.

  5. Chris

    @DC Rainmaker while we wait for this new round of GoPro Camera’s to come out is the DJI Action 2 worth taking a look at? Like the Session style footprint. Are you planning on doing a review? Cheers for all the great reviews and info.

  6. Ed

    This is an interesting post. While I agree about the Professional camera, I would expect a new small camera to be added to the line-up, though not like the canceled session.

    1. Action Camera – GoPro Hero line
    2. 360 Camera – GoPro Max line
    3. Mini Camera – akin to Insta360 GO 2 or DJI Action 2
    4. Pro Level Camera

  7. Duncan Tindall

    Please please please please can we add a camera that is double the size, but has a 6hour battery life please. The ability to fit and forget for a decent road ride, even a morning/afternoon in the forest MTB.

    Or for commuter cyclists so they / we can charge once a week not daily.

    This wouldn’t just be great for cyclists, but for when I’m on my motorbike too.

    • Paul S.

      It’s pretty easy to do that with external power. I record multi-hour rides frequently using a small external battery and a USB-C cable. It’d be nice if they’d make using external power a much easier by putting the USB-C port on the outside of the camera rather than hidden behind a door. I have one of the cheap replacement doors with a hole in it for the cable, and I’ve also used the Hero 8 Media Mod for this (the USB-C port is on the outside of the Mod).

    • Duncan Tindall

      I’ve got one of the Wasabi battery backpacks but it covers the back screen and also takes away the waterproofing.

      But I still think if they went back to the goPro 1 size and filled the space with battery it would be a perfect size and all in one.

      That gopro have left it to third parties to address this gap, and the number of people making such accessories shows there is a demand, makes it worse.

    • Just take a few extra batteries, much easier to carry and if you don’t need it you don’t have a huge camera.

    • Duncan Tindall

      I can’t change a battery whilst riding in a group (others may have better handling skills). And 2 battery changes that mean removing the camera from the cage, opening the slot, swapping, battery in/out of a waterproof pocket in my jersey pocket, it’s just a faffing for me.

      Don’t get me wrong, for many many people that’s a really fine situation where they stop to regroup or have a snack every 90mins or so. But just as they don’t need the 6 hour battery life then I’m not worried about 150g more and an extra 2cm on the dimensions. But I would just like a ‘start when I leave home, turn off when I get home camera.

      Just in context of this post, where they are discussing splitting the camera line into different use needs I’m saying that one option of a bigger, heavier longer lasting one would be good for me (and some others – there’s an active live discussion on another forum on this exact issue).

    • Barnaby

      I record footage from bike races, and anything longer than an hour, I have to remember to start up front and rear cameras mid-race. It’s a real pain, calculating ‘how many laps left versus how long the last few laps took…’.

      It’s also really challenging, in a fast, hard race, to turn on the camera. There are more than a handful of races where I’ve missed a click, and turned the camera ON when it wanted it OFF, and vice versa.

      Longer battery life would be epic.

  8. Yes a new Session on the way, here’s my money! Although I love my Hero 8, the Session 5 was the one I always loved!
    I still use GoPro Studio in combination with Garmin Virb Edit, it’s very easy and fast to use, yes they both miss a lot of options but if I need those I can always use Adobe Premiere Pro.

  9. Adam

    A new session camera please. The “session eleven”, even has a vaguely familiar ring to it.

    Maybe put the inbuilt mounting “folding fingers” rather then the frames would be good.

  10. Neil Jones

    I’m still hung up on whether the plural of GoPro is GoPro’s or GoPros. The apostrophe can’t be a possessive one, but it could indicate a contraction of “Professional” to “Pro”. However, given that GoPro is a proper noun in itself, I’d think that it should be GoPros?

  11. gingerneil

    I wonder how inflated those gopro subscription numbers are by pushing users towards the subscription for a ‘saving’ on the hardware? I would bet a huge number would not have signed up otherwise, and wont renew unless they upgrade hardware with a similar offer.

  12. Colin

    I realize they probably haven’t given you any more info than the rest of us, but have you heard any rumblings on a Max 2 with better total resolution? That’s the one downside of the original Max (once the software got up to speed), and I would vastly prefer that to another incremental resolution bump on the Hero line.

  13. Eugene

    My Virb Ultra 30 has decided it doesn’t want to charge the battery any longer and I can’t bind my external charger and it appears I can’t buy one any longer either. So I thought maybe I’ll look at GoPro again and now I find out I’ll need cloud/subscription services to use one?

    • Paul S.

      What gave you that idea? No, you don’t need a GoPro subscription to use a GoPro camera.

    • Eugene

      The parts of the review above talking about subscriptions. Sure an older one should work without but how long are the older supported?

    • Paul S.

      He’s talking about the vaporware that they’ve announced. I’ve always found GoPro’s desktop software to be awful, and the iOS/iPadOS software only minimally useful. I have a GoPro subscription, so I assume I’ll have access to their software if/when it comes out, but I’m not going to rush to use it.

      As for the cameras themselves: so long as they record .mp4 files to a microSD card, you’ll have access to the video files and will be able to use whatever software you want. Because of the 4Gb limit for single files on the FAT filesystem, I generally use ffmpeg to stitch files from my Hero 8 together into a whole video, and Quicktime Player or VLC to view, and use HandBrake to excise clips. In other words, you can use whatever video software you’d like to view and edit. You don’t have to use GoPro’s (at the moment nonexistent) software. If they ever record in a proprietary mode so that you can’t get to the files, then you’d have reason to complain. But for now, the subscription seems to be for the software, and GoPro software is not something I’d pay extra for given the past.