The product GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO) hopes will be its next hit with consumers took a big step closer to the market on Tuesday. The Fusion 5.2k spherical camera has been given to the Golden State Warriors, Fox Sports, Getty Images, and a handful of other production teams for a pilot program meant to refine the product.
GoPro plans to work with these partners to refine the user experience before launching it to a broader audience late in 2017. And if the product is successful, it could be an important growth platform for GoPro.
What is Fusion?
Fusion is GoPro's spherical camera that captures 5.2k video and stitches the images from two cameras into a VR or flat image or video. GoPro also says its editing software will allow users to reframe, or OverCapture, content to change the composition of the shot.
The product will be a camera and include software that will make editing and sharing of content possible. And you can see that the form factor above will allow Fusion to work with most GoPro accessories already in use. The product is intended to compete with 360 cameras already on the market from Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN), Kodak, and Samsung. But fitting into GoPro's existing ecosystem of accessories should give the product a bit of an advantage if it's easy to use.
Interest is off the charts
The users GoPro chose to lead the pilot program will give it good feedback ahead of full production. There are sports teams, news networks, VR companies, and even a travel vlogger named Louis Cole. The 10 initial users were chosen out of more than 20,000 applicants, according to GoPro.
That's a significant number of applicants considering there wasn't wide distribution of the pilot program's existence. It was announced via a press release, but the average consumer probably still doesn't know a 360 camera is coming from GoPro.
I bring up the interest level because it gives us an idea of how the product could impact GoPro's finances. In 2016, the company generated $1.2 billion in revenue on sales of 4.8 million cameras. If Fusion sells 100,000 units at a price of $800, similar to the Garmin VIRB 360 price point, the impact could be $80 million, or 7% of sales. That's not a massive impact, but it's notable for a product in early phases of adoption.
This could be the new product GoPro needs
There's been speculation for years that GoPro would get into the drone business, something it did with Karma last year. But it's also clear that GoPro is in over its head with drones, being shown up not once, but twice by DJI's Mavic and Spark drones.
Fusion is a much more natural product extension because it's a camera and works with GoPro's existing accessories customers already own. If it can make the product compelling from an ease of use and price standpoint it could have a new hit on its hands this holiday season. And that would be welcome news for investors.