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GoPro axes entertainment division, 200 employees in restructuring

gopro restructures hero5 black review
Les Shu/Digital Trends
GoPro’s year of ups and downs, from releasing a new flagship camera to recalling the firm’s first drone, is prompting the action camera giant to reduce its workforce by more than 200 employees and close its entertainment division. GoPro on Wednesday announced a company-wide restructuring slated for next year, along with the departure of three-year company president, Tony Bates.

The announcement comes on the tail end of a rocky year for the company. GoPro fought a persistently falling stock price with the launch of new features like voice control and image stabilization this fall. The announcement of the Karma drone also gave the company a boost — but that was followed by a costly recall that further impacted the company’s stock price.

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The restructure announcement was paired with a spot of good news for the company — holiday sales are up 35 percent so far, likely owing to what many consumers felt was a long overdue update with the GoPro HERO5. That flagship action camera has been the best-selling digital imaging device since its October launch, according to the NPD Group.

“Consumer demand for GoPro is solid and we’ve sharply narrowed our focus to concentrate on our core business,” said GoPro CEO Nicholas Woodman. “We are headed into 2017 with a powerful global brand, our best-ever products, and a clear roadmap for restored growth and profitability for 2017.”

That road map includes closing GoPro’s entertainment division, which promotes GoPro-crafted videos through a rewards system and streams user videos on multiple platforms. The entertainment division was a recent development by the company, born from an idea to build on the sales that already resulted from viral GoPro-shot videos and stories of the cameras surviving odd conditions. The rewards program celebrated it’s first full year — and a million dollars in award payments — only a month ago.

The company’s staff will be cut by 15 percent, which includes about 200 current full time employees as well as canceling open positions. The company says reductions will also be made in the company’s physical facilities.

The move will bring the company’s operating expenses down from about $735 million to $650 million, but will also cost the company between $24 and $33 million, with most of those costs to be incurred before the end of this year. The company says a large portion of those costs are severance packages.

GoPro’s president, Tony Bates, will also be stepping down at the end of the year. “In the past three years, GoPro has seen enormous progress in camera technology, software and international growth,” he said. “Today GoPro has a solid leadership team deeply focused on its core business and profitability.”

GoPro essentially began selling waterproof camcorders in surf shops but quickly grew into a dominate player in the market, arguably creating the action camera category. Now, the company is facing more competition from brands like Garmin, Sony, and even the budget manufacturer Yi Technology. Prior to the release of the GoPro Hero 5, many considered the company’s flagship camera to be in need of an update compared to competing models.

The company has since released several big features, including voice control, image stabilization, and automatic uploads to a new cloud storage service on the GoPro HERO5, and further upgraded with the capability of adding GPS data overlays. The company’s Karma drone was well received for its simplicity, but an error causing the drone to lose power midflight prompted a recall, and the company hasn’t yet indicated when shipments will resume.

In the statement, the company says that it will focus on their core products in a bid to enhance its profitability. “We have a lot of work to do to finish the quarter and our fiscal year,” Woodman said, “however our HERO5 cameras have been very well received by critics and consumers alike.”

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One of my few complaints when reviewing the GoPro Hero 10 Black was its somewhat fleeting battery life, and though I haven’t personally encountered the issue, many users have reported problems limiting recording times due to overheating. GoPro seems to have heard that message loud and clear, as they have announced a major firmware update for the camera that aims to solve the problems as well as a brand new Enduro battery.

The firmware (which will be available by the end of October) introduces three new video performance modes designed to maximize the Hero 10’s performance in different scenarios. Maximum video performance mode prioritizes high resolution, frame rate, and image quality. Extended battery mode limits resolution and frame rate to maximize recording times and battery life, while tripod/stationary video mode provides high performance when the camera is stationary, and there isn’t any airflow to cool the camera.

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Images of the GoPro Hero 10 Black leaked yesterday, giving us our first look at images of the device along with specs. WinFuture, a German publication that previously leaked information about the redesigned Hero 9 Black in August last year was also the source of the latest leak.  A report on the website suggests the Hero 10 Black looks similar to its predecessor (Hero 9 Black) in terms of size, design, and external accessibility features. The only design difference so far can be seen in blue accents that spell out "10 Black." 
The major hardware changes we're seeing are improvements to processing power with the new GP2 processor and an improved image sensor that beefs up from 20-megapixels to 23-megapixels The Hero 10 Black is also expected to support 5.3K video recording at a smooth 60 frames per second (fps), 4K videos at 120 fps, and 2.7K videos at 240 fps. The last one can help you create high-resolution slow-motion clips. This is a considerable improvement over previous models that only supported 5K recording at 30 fps and 4K recording at 60 fps. 

Marketing materials seen by WinFuture hint that Hero 10 Black’s in-camera software stabilization will see an improvement to offer "gimbal-like stabilization", after being upgraded to HyperSmooth 4.0 and TimeWarp 3.0 for time-lapse videos. Users can also enjoy an auto-upload function to transfer files online at a much quicker speed. The Hero 10 Black also supports 1080p live streaming, the same as previous models. Finally, the Hero 10 Black is said to offer 10 meters deep housing, touchscreen controls, and voice accessibility. Users can also access the webcam mode along with SuperPhoto and HDR options. These features combined with the improved recording capability have the potential to be a gamechanger for streamers and on-the-scene photographers. 
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