Insta360 recently announced that they’ve raised a further $30 million in funding, and that they’ve been profitable since 2017. That’s more than can be said for GoPro.
While GoPro has fallen from grace since going public nearly five years ago, Insta360 has been chipping away at their core customer. Alongside DJI, I worry that GoPro might have its lunch eaten.
As I said before, GoPro faces a problem in that they sell users on the idea of being a cool surfer or a brave rock climber. In reality, we’re videoing our pets and our family. Since this could be done on a smartphone, GoPro doesn't have the edge. They need something special. A DJI drone or an Insta360 camera can shoot from perspectives no conventional camera can muster.
Really, GoPro released their Fusion camera as an answer to this. The GoPro Hero 7’s built-in stabilization also brings something new to the table that users can tangibly see the value in. But is it too little, too late? GoPro’s stock has thankfully returned from its all-time low in 2018 due to a stellar holiday season. They’re also making just under a million a month from the GoPro Plus subscription, with 199,000 subscribers at $5 a each. This is great news, but it’s the first good news in a very long time. I’m concerned that it’s not sustainable.
Let’s look over to Insta360 again. The $30m series C+ of funding they raised comes after a successful launch of their ONE X camera. Unfortunately, we don’t know what the company’s valuation is right now, but Bloomberg is also reporting a 2020 IPO. So we may find out soon. Coupled with the new information that they’ve been profitable since 2017, it’s looking like they’re far healthier than the competition. They also seem better positioned to grow with trends, like if immersive video becomes more commonplace.
Is this all good news for action camera fans? Well, that $30m will be spent on some cutting edge R&D that I’m told will “redefine the action camera category.” I’m excited, but I’ll wait to see what that means.
Insta360’s other competitor, Ricoh, released a $1,000 camera recently. In my honest opinion, it isn’t as consumer friendly as the $400 Insta360 ONE X and their suite of apps. I feel like if you want a 360 camera right now, you know where to turn (regardless of how popular VR is at the moment). GoPro? I’m not sure they know what their market wants, but it will be interesting to see where Insta360 is going.