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August 8, 2013

Action Camera Maker & GoPro Competitor Contour Closes Its Doors, Literally

Contour CameraWhile GoPro might be the most popular ultra-portable and relatively inexpensive "action camera," it's certainly not the only game in town. Contour, a Seattle company just under a thousand miles away from GoPro's Bay Area headquarters, actually started their own action camera right around the same time as the original GoPro. A lot has changed in the decade since, but it looks like the competition has finally brought down Contour.

If you've forgotten the quality of the camera compared to GoPro, here is a Gizmodo review from December:

Last Friday, according to employees who were not notified, the doors to the Contour offices were locked (thanks to Dustin for the info). According to Geekwire, Jason Green, one of the co-founders of Contour who was working in product development and engineering, believed "the decision was financially responsible and prudent." He also said this about what they were working on:

“The things we had lined up for (2013 and 2014) were the best things we had ever done, by a pretty long shot,” said Green via phone this afternoon. “We weren’t done showing the world what we could do.”

He said he didn’t want to provide a sense of false hope, but added, “There’s a part of me that looks at what we’ve got and has some resolve. I don’t know what the future holds, but I don’t see it being void of everything we’ve done or all the people who’ve done it. There’s just too much potential there.”

It's unclear where the company goes from here, and if this is really it. While the closure may or may not be totally related to the dominance of GoPro, that company has become a household name (no doubt helped in part by their advertising). The other co-founder, Marc Barros, stepped down earlier in the year, and mentioned the competition with their Bay Area rival in a blog post:

At Contour we were winning. But most of the time it felt like we were losing. Despite making what many thought was the best product on the market, the gap between us and GoPro wasn’t shrinking, it was increasing. With each incremental dollar in revenue they gained, the gap widened as they plowed that money back into marketing, forever separating the recognition in consumers’ minds.

We'll let you know if there is any update on the status of the company.

What do you guys think? Do you own or have you used Contour products before?

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47 Comments

sad

August 8, 2013

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Sad to hear this. The Contour is a work horse, with excellent picture, and excellent audio! Hate to hear this company is closing up shop! Hate it, hate it!!

August 19, 2013

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Just a month ago they sent us a free camera as part of marketing effort reaching out to various creators. The camera was truly great, I was really impressed. Sad to see the competition shrink.

August 8, 2013

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Well...it's a good example of American Capitalism, though.

August 8, 2013

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Gabriel

If they want to survive they need to release a camera that is 100% hackable. They should encourage to people to make mods and share them a la magic lantern.

I don't want to call it "open source." They should own and maintain the code, but help facilitate modification and build it into the next gen.

August 8, 2013

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steve

If they have patents worth salvaging, someone will. Intellectual property of note rarely goes unnoticed.

August 8, 2013

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DLD

Contour always looked good, I seem to recall it was a PAL / 25fps issue that made me go down the gopro route, although this may have since been rectified.
Gopro also had stockists locally, contour did not.
GoPro alao have the serious marketing clout. My results have never entirely lived up to the promo videos, but ok for price. Competition good, monopoly bad, so I hope contour survive.

August 8, 2013

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Paul

Sorry to see the demise. Always thought their products were better made than Go and easier to wear and attach to odd shaped things. Perhaps a take over candidate to some one in the industry who has some marketing muscle,

August 8, 2013

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Contour has a lot of time to be a game changer but first the worst thing is the design, this camera doesn't give to your a really first person point of view because you need to put to the side...so this is a HUGEEEE mistake and second the price never be lower than Gopro, when i buy mine gopro i paid 288 the same class of camera of countour it was 349 euro...so no one reason to buy the countour ...

August 8, 2013

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luca

Disagree, the GoPro design is clunky. It's really best suited for a chest mount. Zero aerodynamics. People look like freaking teletubbies with those things mounted to their helmets.

I'm holding out hope that someone snatches up Contour and keeps the marketplace interesting.

August 8, 2013

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Chris H

Did you see some gopro video especially the new !?!?!?here an example https://vimeo.com/62092214 you simple can't do it this with contour..... i never see a serious contour video, used by famous stunt or else! and the gopro have PROTUNE better sensor and come with Cineform so have much more thing about contour

August 8, 2013

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luca

Let's hope someone like Jim Jannard snatches it up and turns it around. He has the money, clout and tech knowledge to make a better product than GoPro. The contour is the only "action" cam (and my GH2) that doesn't lose image quality when at high speed. Anything over 130mph and all my gopros and canons start to dance the image. I can't explain it, but it's like the sensors can't keep up with the moving scenery.

August 8, 2013

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Jorge Cayon

If you are looking for a bullet proof Professional Sport Camera with its DNA straight out of High Impact Pro motorsports look no further. Not a Me-too brand by a longshot but a professional camera built by racers for racers with the track record to prove it.

September 27, 2013

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Teletubbies Hahaha. Made my day. I will say their logo is awesome, so big part of it has to do with Contour's marketing, they don't do enough, which is another reason GoPro is way ahead.

August 8, 2013

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I worked for a production company that was sponsored by Contour. There products had made some pretty huge advancements in the last few years. Also, you can mount a contour anywhere that you can mount a go pro, including the top of your head. The lens rotates to allow you to mount them flat and then to level out the lens.

August 8, 2013

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Ok guys the world go wrong make a crow founding and buy the countour

August 8, 2013

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luca

Go Pro are experts at marketing. They beat out Sony for sales at Best Buy.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2013/03/04/the-mad-billionaire-behin...

August 8, 2013

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moebius22

Agree. GoPro marketing was (is) pretty amazing. Contour marketing; what marketing? Contour let GoPro take it all. Too bad.

August 8, 2013

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SC_Lane

Contour let me down the first time I ever used it. I went skydiving and took one with me. I had tested it out the day before and everything worked perfectly. When it came to taking the jump, I hit record right after we took off and let it roll until I landed, everything seemed fine until I got home and popped the card into my computer and saw files that had nothing on them. I was very disappointed and have never used a Contour since. My GoPro however has worked flawlessly since the day I bought it.

August 8, 2013

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Quinnb

Sad to see them leave the marketplace. I own and use several Contour cameras. I found them superior to the GoPro due to their form factor and simple controls. Sure, GoPro has become the market darling, though. Always a sad sign to see less competition in any market.

August 8, 2013

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Right, if your products are great crowdfund a restart and for G...D´s sake do some effective marketing this time. GoPro won by effective marketing. And it is not about shilling and flacking but by getting your story out. Glad to help, if you care - RS has my mail.

August 8, 2013

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Matthias Giese

LOOKS LIKE DRIFT WILL MOVE INTO THE #2 SPOT. THE NEW GHOST WAS SUPERIOR TO CONTOUR AND GAVE GOPRO A REAL RUN FOR THE MONEY. DRIFT IS THE WAY TO GO.

August 8, 2013

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BOB

What is truly sad is that, in many ways, Contour had a superior product, they certainly had better customer service which GoPro sucks at badly. Also, GoPro releases half baked firmware and app updates, then when people complain, they do nothing except count their money. Seriously, owner acts like an arrogant douche, hope a shark eats his ass up at Mavericks, kidding! (about the shark not the douche comment)

August 8, 2013

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pacificbeachca

Sucks. GoPro used their customers to promote the product, and gave them incentives to be more daring etc. Its seemed from my side of the fence that Contour was more conservative and conventional in their approach to promotion.
If they were a Seattle company then I never saw anything of them up here. GoPro always had boots on the ground promos at every event regardless of what the event was, Contour, not so much.
The only time I saw a rep come in and promote the product, he didnt have a bloody clue about what he was selling or how to promote it properly.

August 8, 2013

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sproketholes

Bummer. These guys were really cool and they had a great warranty...with basically no questions asked.

GoPro took them out, but then again, GoPro is taking out almost everyone. Anyone want to bet that GoPro comes out with something that competes with RED this year at NAB for 1/1000 of the price?

August 8, 2013

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yin

GoPro is going to make a 6K cinema camera that will compete with Red and be something big time movie makers will buy, is your bet? How much are you wanting to bet?

August 10, 2013

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Gene

If GoPro come out with something like 1/1000the price of RED it WONT be competing! That's such a fanboy / naive comment!

This article also fails / neglects to recognise the VIO POV HD.

August 10, 2013

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HowardG

This is horrible news... I LOVE my Contour Roams (I have two of them) for $100 they are simply the best action cam on the market for what I film (paintball first person shooter video). The slide switch is just common sense for a helmet cam, and any "action" cam that has buttons to turn it on, are a bad idea... You just can't tell when wearing gloves if you turned it on or not. And in paintball, you aren't allowed to take your mask off to see if the light is on, and if your camera "beeps" it will give away your position and you WILL BE SHOT! The tiny form factor is REALLY helpful as people DO shoot at your camera, and the mounting is simple. My last video was just featured on Contours facebook page, and it is depressing to know that is the last video they will ever feature, especially when the product works so well, and has so many great features...
Free Enterprise Trails of Doom Paintball

August 9, 2013

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The Contour really is the better camera for the shooting sports. I shoot USPSA and 3 Gun, you just can't mount a GoPro on a rifle as well as a Contour.

August 9, 2013

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:( :( :(

August 9, 2013

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artix

This just goes to show you how powerful MARKETING AND BRANDING IS.

GoPro clever marketing propelled it to buy cineform and other key qcquisitions.

It just goes to show you that someone can have the same product , ideal, or dream as yours, but that does not mean they have the same God given hardworking vision as yours.

GoPro hired and paid regular folks, surfers, base jumpers, (insert action sport here) you name it and color graded the helll out of those commercials and had an amazing viral campaign, Even the GOPRO packaging is nice.

The same goes for a movie and how actors, marketing and other factors can help your brand

August 9, 2013

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jay clout

It seems Nick Woodman of GoPro promotes his camera better than, well, everyone in the camera business. You can't overlook how much he works to make his product known. I will not fault him for that. How can anyone fault him for that? In fact shouldn't I say that's the reason he is more successful? He made a great product. It's a fascinating creation. Look how small it is. And it's tougher than his competitors. It does 1440p. It can even do 4K--- to a degree. It makes sense he is pulling out into a bigger lead.

I have asked myself which is more extreme, the extreme sports athletes that use GoPro to record what they do or the GoPro camera recording them?

Competition in the real world is tough. If Contour has some good technology maybe they should use it elsewhere. Trying to survive against GoPro is not for the faint of heart. What could they do instead? There is need of a low priced, easy to use camcorder, i.e., with NO complicated menus that are counter intuitive, that can do 1080p, up to 60fps, has a zoom lens that can do something like 50X zoom, and has a clean HDMI, Thunderbolt, and SDI out so it can be used for live streaming. Most cameras of that ilk cost $800.00 to $1000.00, and don't have Thunderbolt, and SDI out. If they can make a camera like that costing less than $800.00, THEN LET THE LIVE STREAM WORLD KNOW ABOUT IT, they may have a niche.

August 10, 2013

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Gene

I love the GoPro but it has some MAJOR issues both in design and performance. I have been waiting a long time for another product to become a serious competitor to give GoPro a run for their money but it hasnt happened... Contour were always a step behind. Lets hope they can make a comeback!

August 10, 2013

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I think the only competitor GoPro has is GoPro. Nick Woodman is competing to outdo HERO3 in HERO4. I have been around people at the top of companies enough to know they are not the type to take on companies like GoPro. It's waaay too much work and risk. They'd rather look for a niche that will make them a lot of money and give them a very comfortable life without having to compete with a GoPro. It will take another person like Nick Woodman, someone who doesn't want to be a big business in a suit type, but just wants to make a fun product and end up with tons of money more than he ever thought he would get, to be a competitor with GoPro. And who would that even be? Who would take up the task of making another sports/action cam? A great one already exists. GoPro came along because nothing like it existed. Nick Woodman said he wanted a camera like a GoPro but it didn't exist. So he made one, step by step, on his own. Many of the early steps in making the camera he did at a risk, all on his own.

Watch this video. Listen to Nick Woodman's story. See where GoPro is being used. Then tell me what company will try to take GoPro on:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd-k-395KtA

August 10, 2013

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Gene

Sorry to hear. Great camera. I had honed in on contour after much research, not a fan of the big box shape of gopro.

August 18, 2013

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Sad to hear, now that they are gone, what is the best alternative other than go pro? Been looking @ Looxcie, what do you guys think? www.looxcie.com

September 3, 2013

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Kit

Sad to hear that. What will happen with support. I have a broken rail housing and now understand why nobody has replied to my numerous emails.
Still I love my +2 and would hate to have to change to GoPro.

September 10, 2013

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Kenneth

With Contour gone, what's a good non-gopro alternative? I've been checking out Looxcie, they have added a waterproof case and the live video streaming seems cool. Looxcie.com

September 19, 2013

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Kit

I want to know what's going to happen to firmware updates and GPS tracking...that was the MAIN reason I decided to go with Contour and not GoPro...plus I never liked the teletubby GoPro shaped camera over my helmet...

October 7, 2013

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Ralph

Hi
I have just purchased a contour Roam2 camera
in Sweden.I was not aware that the company was shut down
Now I can not install their storyteller sofrware
on their website.I email to company in web support page but
No response.Without this software I can not change the camera settings.
What I have to do?
Ismet

October 8, 2013

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Ismet

Will we ever be able to access the website so we can view videos....or are they lost?
Thanks,
Dee

October 20, 2013

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Dee Good

I really hope that someone takes over Contour or they resurrect and keep the great cameras coming. I have owned many of their cameras and accessories and I am very sad that those were possibly my last Contour products :( . Please Contour, COME BACK, WE NEED YOU!

October 18, 2013

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Maxim

I know what the niche is that would set them a part from go pro.....sounds as though I am too late to share the secret sauce...

November 11, 2013

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crazy janie

Sad to see this company close, personally I thinks it a mistake. Gopro is only more popular because it got advertisements with famous people first. American are what I like to call "Fad Chasers" that the I phone for instance more people have an I phone over any phone why? Not because its the best phone out there. Honestly I can name at least 5 that are hands down better. But people bye them because everyone else has one. For the price, quality of video, and sleek low profile and various mounts the contour is better than the Gopro. Now who evers idea it was to put GPS in a camera that's dumb. WiFi yes if your not gonna make an additional viewing screen (that's cheap to make and brings the company more money) which is what Gopro did. (Its good to save the customer some money which is what the company did) but if u watch YouTube reviews this was one of the cons to the contour. All the company needed to do was to make one with higher mega pixels and maybe a zoom. Why zoom when u cant even see how far your zooming. who knows but Gopro added zoom and the fad chaser love it. Final note stay away from the bubble lens distance is shot. I hope someone that owns the company see this and open back up it was a great product.as far as gopro like all fads they fade into be bulky juke it is

December 17, 2013

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