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Going beyond the action: Developer program opens new worlds for GoPro cameras

Updated on April 14: The article has been updated with additional comments from GoPro CEO Nick Woodman and GoPro Developer Program partners from GoPro’s launch event in San Francisco, as well as various product information in the photo slideshow.

GoPro is no doubt the king of the action camera market, ever since it ignited a new industry with its Hero back in the mid-2000s. But action cams are now a dime a dozen, with models from various companies saturating the market. In recent years, GoPro has sought to diversify its products’ usefulness and separate itself from other manufacturers, partnering with organizations like the NHL and emerging platforms such as Periscope for live broadcasting, as well as creating original content. Today, CEO and founder Nick Woodman announced the company’s next endeavor: a developer program and branding initiative that will see third-party partners incorporate Hero cameras into their applications.

“Since the launch of the HD Hero in 2009, we thought of GoPro as something more of a camera – as the world’s most versatile capture module,” Woodman said. “We want to support third-party developers…while scaling GoPro’s ecosystem in a very important way. And this program is giving developers abilities to do just that – bring products to market with our support.”

Related: GoPro lures key Apple designer from Jony Ive’s close-knit team

The GoPro Developer Program has been in the works for more than a year, the company says, and we’ve seen glimpses, such as the Periscope tie-in. At a launch event in San Francisco, GoPro officially announced that it’s been working with more than 100 companies, including major players like BMW and startups such as Timecode Systems. The partners’ industries range from app development to hardware manufacturing, such as devices and mounts.

Companies as well as consumers have already been using GoPro cameras in interesting ways. Developers participating in the program essentially get additional support from GoPro in connecting the cameras with their products easier and faster.

Thirty-four companies exhibited their applications during GoPro’s launch event – many of them have already been working with GoPro for the past year. They include BMW, which is showing off how its M-Laptimer App records telemetry, speed, location, and video from GoPro cameras for analysis and playback; Fisher-Price, which created a special camera housing and mounts designed for kids; Telefonica’s Xtreamr Mobile App, which is using the camera to broadcast “multi-dimensional” video experiences via a phone; and Timecode Systems, which syncs Hero cams into pro TV and film workflows.

“The end result is a product combination that’s greater than the sum of two halves, providing the end user with the best possible solution available,” said Timecode CEO Paul Scurrell.

GP_Developer_Program_CMYK_Horizontal_ReversedDevelopers in the program would also be included in a related program called “Works with GoPro.” Similar to Apple’s “Made for iPhone,” it’s a branding initiative that certifies compatibility, as well as integrated marketing, GoPro says.

Financially, Wall Street hasn’t been kind to the company. GoPro recently reported lower-than-expected revenue that led to job losses, due to some product missteps in a now-crowded market. In addition to its venture into VR and drones, this new open software program could be what the company needs if it wants its cameras to sell like hot-cakes again.