GoPro Recently Revealed GoPro VR – A Virtual Reality Platform
Recently, GoPro has revealed GoPro VR, which is a website and free app for Android and iOS that allows the users to watch and share the virtual reality videos. This site sponsors the new six-camera Omni rig of the company and also features an extensive range of arts, sports, music, and entertainment videos.
This is not the first try of the spur mainstream interest in the 360-degree, 3D videos. Last year, it mutually designed the 16-camera Odyssey rig with the Google’s Alphabet. Odyssey cooperates with the Jump virtual reality platform of YouTube to record, edit, and share the content. But, it’s cost is $15,000 which makes it expensive and mainstream customers cannot afford it. Yet, it has not released. The cost of Omni is $5,000 that might be attractive for the aspiring filmmakers, but it is still expensive for the mainstream customers.
Stepping away from Google
The overview of the GoPro VR proposes that the action camera maker wants to travel further in virtual reality without the help of Google. Nearly a year ago, Google launched Jump, but the Odyssey has not released its 16-camera Odyssey rig yet.
Instead, Google made the YouTube compatible with the extensive variety of inexpensive 360-degree cameras such as the IC Real Tech Allie, PixPro SP360, Ricoh’s Theta, and 360fly. These cameras cost between $350 and $600. That move was good for the Google because it made it easier to upload the low-quality spherical videos, but it is not good for the GoPro because it thought that the Odyssey will support it to sell his 16 Hero 4 Black cameras.
The attempt by Google to widen the demand for virtual reality videos with the inexpensive components of the virtual reality cameras complements its strategy to allow the mainstream consumers to experience the virtual reality with its cheap Cardboard gadgets. Google is well aware of the fact that a PixPro video cannot compete with the quality of its rival Odyssey one, and also that the Cardboard is not able to compete with the Oculus Rift. But, in Google’s view,
accessing more consumers is more important than producing the expensive high-quality gadgets and content for a handful initial adopters with the high-end tools. That is possibly the reason behind the GoPro statement that it would release a “more casual” spherical camera during the important presentation of YouTube at CES in January.
Leveraging its brand appeal
GoPro, with an inexpensive virtual reality rig, Kolor’s stitching software, and its own virtual reality app and website, seems to have all the required parts to build its own virtual reality ecosystem. But the difficult thing for GoPro is to motivate a meaning percentage of the 3.85 million viewers on its YouTube channel to view its first-party virtual reality content.
In the recent quarters, GoPro seemed to balance the media growth and its brand strength with the number of followers that it had on Instagram, YouTube, and other social networks. Though, most of the social success of GoPro can also be credited to the reputation of those social sites. According to the Alexa, site tracker, the third most visited website in the United States is YouTube, while GoPro doesn’t get a place in the top 2,700. Even if GoPro succeeded in motivating its YouTube viewers to visit the GoPro VR, then there is no assurance that its viewers will be eager to order the expensive $5,000 six camera rig.
Improving its software
The release of the virtual reality app by GoPro also shows the efforts of the company to beef up its software. GoPro was broadly criticized in the past for sticking with the editing solutions and manual offloading, which seemed archaic as compared with the automatic cloud-based backup solutions for the smartphones such as the Google Drive.
Recently in August, GoPro added the feature of “trim and share” to its mobile app to allow its users to share the virtual reality content without moving the whole virtual reality video files. Recent in March, GoPro bought the Replay which is a mobile app that is able to stitch the videos, photos, and music into single videos and splice. Replay has more advanced features of video editing typically found on the computers. It rounds out that suite with the capability to watch and share virtual reality content.
Going all-in on virtual reality
Making investment in the virtual reality seems to be the next reasonable step for the GoPro because the demand for its action cameras has intensely slowed during the recent year. Digi Capital, a Tech M&A advisory firm predicted that the virtual reality market will expand from nothing today to $30 billion by 2020.
Though, the market of virtual reality is still an unproven one, and the high cost of virtual reality cameras and headsets could limit its growth until more cheap and affordable hardware comes in the market. If this happens, GoPro will just have accompanied its core action business of camera with a niche virtual reality one, a move which will not avoid its sales from dropping off a cliff.