The reality for GoPro Inc (NASDAQ: GPRO) heading into its fourth-quarter earnings report is that there's a lot investors will be looking for. Sales of Hero 5 cameras have to impress, margins are going to be scrutinized, and inventory is a question mark after last year's massive writedowns.
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But for GoPro's long-term health, the company has to find a way to move beyond being just an action-camera company. Action cameras will be at GoPro's core, but there are three new products GoPro needs to advance in 2017 to be a real winner for investors.
The Karma drone, which was recalled only weeks after launch in 2016. Image source: GoPro.
The Karma drone was supposed to be GoPro's big product launch in 2016, but it was a dud out of the gate. It's supposed to be relaunched this year, although we don't yet know what improvements have been made or when the product will be available.
GoPro doesn't need to get the Karma product 100% perfect and investors shouldn't view DJI's new Mavic Pro drone as a competitor it has to match, but GoPro does have to build a foundation on which it can build future drones. Getting the product in customers' hands and seeing what they like or don't and what features need to be added or improved will be key. There's no better way to learn than through customer feedback, and GoPro needs to at least take the step of relaunching Karma in 2017, or the product line may be lost forever.
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A 360-degree image taken with the Omni rig by GoPro. Image source: GoPro.
Omni for the rest of us
The idea of capturing and sharing 360-degree image or video content is incredibly appealing, and GoPro has indicated it's going to try to be a leader in the market. But the Omni product it currently makes is bulky and expensive, making it less than appealing for GoPro's core customer.
In 2017, I think the company needs to introduce a simpler 360 camera that comes under the $1,000 price point, including software. This could encourage customers to give GoPro another look before their adventure and reinforce the company's place as a leader in image capture for adventure sports.
Another reason GoPro needs to get this market right is that competitors are already starting to take interest. Kodak, LG, Samsung, and others are starting to make their move into 360 cameras. GoPro doesn't want to fall behind.
Live video and Snapchat are two booming markets with young people, and GoPro needs to get onboard. And that may be possible now that GoPro is no longer trying to build a media company.
GoPro has long talked about the need to make capturing and sharing images easier for customers. The company has taken steps to ease this pain by simplifying editing apps and introducing a cloud platform called GoPro Plus. But it needs to take a step into live-streaming video and platforms like Snapchat to make an even bigger splash in the market.
Today, you can use a GoPro camera to stream content on Twitter's (NYSE: TWTR) Periscope app. But the process is so complicated it would be difficult to do while doing the action sports GoPro has built itself on, much less have the battery life for more than a few minutes of video.
If GoPro could integrate easily with leading platform apps, it would have a better use case. And companies like Snap,which has introduced its own glasses to make image capture easier, may be interested in making that partnership possible.
GoPro has options -- and a lot of pressure
The potential for new products is high at GoPro, and the company still has a great brand to leverage when expanding its image experience business model. But it has to move beyond a single line of cameras in 2017, and these three products could be a step in the right direction.
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Travis Hoium owns shares of GoPro. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends GoPro and Twitter. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2019 $12 calls on GoPro and long January 2019 $12 puts on GoPro. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.