In the first three months of 2014, GoPro brought in more revenue than they did in all of 2011 ($235.7 vs.$234.2 million) . So it's not too surprising that the company is officially going to go public, with the hopes of raising $100 million dollars in their IPO. With all of this money talk, and the potential to branch out into more markets, one has to wonder if the company will ever release a pro version of their little HERO cameras, or maybe even a true interchangeable sensor camera?
There is no question the little GoPro cameras have invaded the film/video industry on all levels, from the casual shooter all the way up to movies like The Hobbit. While they really pushed the action camera industry forward with their HERO3 in 2012, many competitors have come along in the meantime that are offering cameras just as good, if not better in terms of image quality. Whether this will greatly affect sales in the future is a whole other question, however, especially as you consider these amazing stats noted by The Verge:
According to IDC, GoPro had a 30.4 percent share of digital camcorders last year. That's higher than Sony, Panasonic, and Canon — companies that helped created that entire digital camcorder category, and that sell more than just action cameras. In the ruggedized camcorder category, GoPro accounted for 77 percent of the market last year, and have been the top brand in standalone video cameras for the past five quarters, according to the NPD group.
The company has focused solely on consumer products, and while they own the professional CineForm compression scheme, they haven't really moved into the realm of professional gear. Since no pro options exist yet from the company, some have turned to making their own interchangeable lens and iris-lockable options modded from regular GoPro cameras like the Novo from Radiant Images:
And the Ribcage from Back-Bone:
While this does change the camera slightly from its original use, it offers far more options for controlling the image and matching with other cameras, something that is a bit difficult to do in its current form. This begs the question, if all of this modding exists, is GoPro planning its own interchangeable lens version, or even a firmware update to manually control its current cameras?
While I think you'll see something eventually, a pro version would account for such a tiny part of the nearly $1 billion dollars in revenue they'll bring in this year that it's most likely not a priority. The first thing we will likely see sometime this year is a version that shoots 4K at 30fps (maybe more depending on what sensor they use). It's actually a little surprising they didn't have one ready for NAB, but their release pattern has been consistent, with the last two cameras (HERO3 and HERO3+) coming out in the fall.
In any case, while an interchangeable lens version may happen at some point down the road, will they ever move into full-size cameras, possibly to compete with Blackmagic and even Canon/Sony/Panasonic? Even though they own a great codec, the likelihood of a large-sensor interchangeable camera is slim to none. Consumer cameras make up such a larger piece of the pie, that they are more likely going to come up with a smaller version before they introduce a much, much larger one. I would never say never, but if GoPro is even considering a large-sensor camera, they should think long and hard about getting the most out of the current form factor, especially as competition is heating up in that space with companies like AJA getting into cameras.
What do you think? Would you like to see an interchangeable version of the HERO3? Do you think something like this could come in the next version of the camera?
Link: GoPro SEC Filing
[via The Verge]