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GoPro nixes every-other-year updates, will release Hero6 in 2017

gopro confirms hero  coming in black review
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GoPros are normally updated every other year -- but 2017 will be an exception with a new Hero6 despite the Hero5 being only a few months old.

GoPro will be releasing the Hero6 action camera this year, breaking a two-year release pattern for an annual update as the company responds to financial struggles. CEO Nicholas Woodman confirmed during a conference call with investors on Thursday that the Hero6 would be released in 2017, though he wasn’t able to offer a more specific timeline. In that same call, Woodman indicated other avenues where the company may be headed next, including virtual reality.

GoPro’s last few action cameras followed an every-other-year update pattern, with the Hero3 launched in 2012, the Hero4 in 2014, and the Hero5 in 2016. All three were announced in October.

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Between the Hero4 and Hero5 however, sales for the action-camera giant faltered. While the Hero4 entered the market with a solid feature set, as time went on, those features were quickly outranked by competing cameras. Several companies released cameras that didn’t need housing to go underwater, including Olympus’s TG Tracker that also uses a GPS, accelerometer, and several water and temperature sensors. Garmin brought a voice-controlled stabilized camera a few months before the Hero5, the Virb Ultra 30. At the same time, more budget-friendly versions, like the Yi camera, also emerged.

GoPro did release a camera in between those flagship Heros at the end of 2015 — but it didn’t go very well. The company attempted to compete with the more budget-friendly brands with the Hero+ and the Hero+ LCD, but after disappointing sales, discontinued those cameras in April.

Whether or not GoPro fans follow the company’s stock turmoil, the company’s current struggles will mean a more frequent update to the flagship camera, as well as possibilities for new ventures. Woodman told investors that the company plans to focus on five areas: returning to profitability, simplifying the storytelling process with a smartphone connection, marketing to more communities, growing internationally, and expanding the GoPro experience for advanced users.

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When discussing possibilities for advanced users, Woodman said drones, stabilization, and virtual reality are possible avenues for the company to grow — and  the company is already working on the first two with the Karma and Karma grip. While GoPro sells the Omni rig for 360 videos, it’s not priced at the consumer level like the Nikon KeyMission 360 or 360Fly.

The company’s focus on enhancing the experience with a smartphone connection could also come into play for current GoPro users. With the Hero5, the company also launched a cloud service to back up videos automatically.

During discussions with industry experts prior to the release of the Hero5, Scott Peterson, an analyst with GAP Intelligence, said that figuring out what to do with all that footage was a pain point for consumers. Woodman’s comment on prioritizing a simpler storytelling process could indicate that an update to the company’s video-editing apps is likely also in the works.