I posted this comment on AVC.com recently, thought after I invested 45 mins writing it, might as well share it here.
I just got back from a week of freeskiing in France, some GoPro videos with me and my friends are being edited right now! While I was skiing, I actually spent a lot of time thinking about GoPro. Why? I ski/snowboard a lot and this year it seemed that every second person (including myself) in the snowpark had AT LEAST one GoPro cam and multiple accessories & mounts. Some people had 2 or 3 cams to shoot simultaneously from different angles.
GoPro is killing it. They literally invented a new category, that little cam is the iPhone for all sports/nature lovers - you either have it and you love it, you haven’t bought one yet… or you’re getting a 2nd or 3rd one. The product itself is not really innovative in terms of technologies used - the cam is good but way better equipment has been available on the market since years. I has very few recording modes and it is rather basic. But all that makes it available to everyone (price) and super-simple to use (handy esp. in extreme conditions). It just works, it’s light, it’s well designed, well-packaged and extremely well marketed. To recap: an extremely simple, extremely well executed and extremely well marketed extreme sports product that works extremely well in extreme conditions. For all above reasons it’s also extremely cool to have one. Or more than one.
They did a very good job with pricing - the basic version is relatively cheap but then you can spend hundreds and hundreds of $$ on accessories And people do. I don’t know their numbers but I am almost sure this strategy is brilliant!
The coolest part and the reason people buy GoPro is because it makes everyone - myself, Fred Wilson and Tony Hawk (always wanted to appear in this collection) - a pro. And coming up with a product that can have such huge impact on the ego and how people perceive themselves is just brilliant. Think of that - if Red Bull manages to deliver this ego boost when you’re drinking their “cool” soda, GoPro can be extremely successful if they continue to play their cards right. And because the product is suitable for practically all extreme sports AND numerous lifestyle categories their market is HUGE.
What do I mean when I say they invented a category? GoPro didn’t just solve a problem for those who have been trying to document their adventures but could not afford / want to carry a more professional / heavy equipment. That’s 1% of their current customer base. The remaining 99% are those, including myself, who had never thought we could shoot an “extreme” sports video (sounded like sth really challenging)… and now it’s so obvious that we all can!
Back to the product and the ego boost - you make a movie of whatever you’re doing and believe me: the experience of both making (yes, making - it’s a cool equipment, you actually look and feel like a pro) and watching your first Go Pro movie is *amazing*. If seems to me that making a movie of just walking around New York (or Kraków where I currently live) would turn out great. You really don’t have to do anything special and it looks interesting. Just like your hipster & pro instagram pictures - they are cool because instagram can make everything look cool.
Apart from that, what I noticed is that the sheer fact that you’re recording makes you want to improve / get more creative & push your limits ;). Everyone has their set of skill and their own fears so improving just a little is rewarding! OK, some movies will look “extreme” just for you and your mom but SOMEONE will care, that’s for sure (think of those tweets about where you are or what you had for breakfast… many of your adventures will be probably around that interesting for the rest of the world ;)
There probably should be a GoPro social network where people could share how pro they are in whatever they’re doing, just as people publish their thoughts and “blog” on Twitter. I actually shared this movie on my FB wall yesterday, it’s amazing, watch it of you have 4 minutes to waste. It will make you want to go for a run. Or book a heliskiing trip ;)