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GoPro’s empire was built on one big fatal flaw

·Senior Writer
Source: Reuters
Source: Reuters

GoPro (GPRO) stock took a dive yesterday, after horrific third-quarter earnings. With sales down 40% from third quarter of 2015—badly missing analysts’ forecasts —and net income down 330%, the stock quickly plunged 20% in after-hours trading.

It’s hard to believe people didn’t see these numbers coming. GoPro, which makes wearable cameras from $199 to $399, hasn’t advanced its core technologies meaningfully enough to compel consumers to upgrade from, say, a Hero 3 model to a 4K Ultra HD. But most of all, the action cam industry was built on a very shaky premise: that the general public does a lot of cool stuff worthy of capturing on video.

The truth is, most people do not live lives that look good when recorded by a GoPro. On a daily basis, most people commute, work, maybe exercise, and live a domestic life, and their smartphones usually can handle any video needs that arise, like capturing a kid doing something cute or their dog skateboarding.

But the GoPro’s loose foundation goes past people not kayaking, mountain biking, skydiving, climbing, skiing, or surfing on a regular basis. Even when you get out there and do cool stuff, will it actually look cool on video?

Thrilling activities etch themselves that way in memory; your most excellent line on that black diamond was super lit and boy did it feel cool. But did that on-piste run really look cool removed from the experience, either from an outside observer or a POV shot? Too often, a tepid video can deflate the thrills your memory captured, especially considering the high bars set by GoPro and Redbull. Unfortunately for GoPro, its new drone doesn’t make us do cooler stuff.

While half of GoPro’s marketing has the potential to inspire creativity, showing interesting and clever use cases, the other half has desensitized them with an absurd amount of stunts, rendering their non-pro videos boring—something breaking through the technology plateau might not even fix. Disillusionment killed the fad

At this point, a wingsuit video or a gnarly urban downhill mountain bike run doesn’t really impress me that much, having seen so many. The respect and awe remain, but even for that something has been lost. And with the bar that high, the coolest thing I’ve captured, my mediocre kayak roll, looks pretty boring.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumerism, tech, and personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.

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