Action camera maker GoPro (GPRO 0.45%) will report its second quarter earnings after the market close on July 27, and expectations aren't high. Analysts expect GoPro to post a non-GAAP loss of $0.58 per share, down from a profit of $0.35 per share a year earlier, due to a lack of new products during the quarter.
However, GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman recently spoke to Today's Willie Geist and revealed a few interesting things about the company. Let's follow up on four interesting comments from that interview, and what they might mean for the company's future.
1. GoPro has fallen behind in software
One ongoing criticism of GoPro is that it has fallen behind in backup and editing solutions for its massive videos. During the interview, Woodman readily admitted that it was "still too difficult" for users to access and edit their GoPro videos.
Woodman said the same thing a year ago, and claimed that GoPro was developing a cloud-based backup platform for its photos and videos. That solution hasn't arrived yet, but the company subsequently acquired apps like Kolor, Replay, and Splice to give GoPro users more backup and editing options. It's gradually integrating these solutions into its main app, but it's unclear if that can convince more mainstream customers to buy GoPro cameras.
Back in February, GoPro signed a collaborative patent licensing deal with Microsoft (MSFT -0.40%) for "certain file storage and other system technologies." The details regarding this deal were scarce, but some analysts believed that it indicated that GoPro could tether its cameras to Microsoft's OneDrive cloud backup system. However, Microsoft's recent decision to downsize free OneDrive accounts from 15GB to 5GB has cast serious doubts on that plan, which would likely require several gigabytes of free storage space per user.
2. Smartphones are sometimes better
A common bearish argument against GoPro is that mainstream consumers will never buy stand-alone action cameras when their smartphones are always readily available. Woodman admitted that a smartphone was a good "reactive capture solution" for documenting things, but that GoPro cameras were ideal for people who wanted "to do something new" and capture themselves doing these things.
Woodman's argument makes sense, but people also use the front cameras of smartphones to capture themselves doing things all the time. Of course, Woodman was likely referring to more intense and hands-free activities like surfing or skiing, but that circles back to GoPro's core problem -- many mainstream consumers don't do those activities often enough to justify spending $200 to $500 on a stand-alone action camera.
3. GoPro's stock decline is "motivating"
Geist asked Woodman if GoPro's stock decline was "frustrating or difficult," but the CEO claimed that the drop -- which erased over 80% of the company's market value over the past 12 months -- was "motivating". GoPro went public in late 2014 with a market value of $2.95 billion, which eventually spiked to $11.8 billion before crashing to its current value of just $1.56 billion.
Despite that volatility, Woodman claims that GoPro is "more fun" as a public company, since the company had finally graduated from the "minor leagues" to the "major leagues". However, many critics disagree, and believe it would have been in GoPro's best interest to stay private until it could diversify its top-heavy business model. Management consulting firm McKinsey recently stated that GoPro simply "didn't have its second act ready."
4. But here comes the second act...
Lastly, Woodman stated that 2016 would be "the biggest year for new product introductions" in the history of the company. These products include new editing solutions, VR rigs, drones, and new flagship cameras -- most of which will arrive during the holiday quarter.
Unfortunately, GoPro faces tough headwinds in each category. Rival camera makers have launched more innovative video editing apps and secured partnerships with GoPro's partner in VR rigs, Alphabet's (GOOG 0.50%) (GOOGL 0.44%) YouTube. DJI Innovations dominates the high-end drone market, and new players like Xiaomi have dramatically lowered price and performance expectations for entry-level devices. Prices of action cameras are also falling, and GoPro must add very impressive features to the Hero 5 to win over new users and convince existing owners to upgrade.
The key takeaway
Woodman recognizes the main threats to his company, but he hasn't offered many reliable ways to counter those challenges. After GoPro reports its second quarter earnings, investors should listen in on the conference call to see if Woodman offers more details about how it will differentiate its two biggest upcoming products -- the Hero 5 and the Karma -- from other action cameras and drones.