GoPro is expanding its $4.99-per-month subscription-based cloud service to include unlimited video storage at original source quality, the company announced on Wednesday. The videos have to be shot on a GoPro, but CEO Nick Woodman stresses that there are no other “asterisks” for the new offering. “Unlimited means unlimited,” Woodman told The Verge in an interview about the news.
Previously, the GoPro Plus service allowed users to store unlimited photos and up to 35 hours of video (roughly 250GB). The files would be transcoded and stored at a lower bitrate, too.
“Unlimited means unlimited.”
“There’s no transcoding going on — like none — and there’s no degradation of image quality,” Woodman said about the new offering. “Your GoPro photos and video are going to go up to your Plus cloud account in their original bitrate with no transformation whatsoever.”
The unlimited storage applies to files shot on older GoPros, too, not just the newer Hero 7 lineup. The company also now offers Plus subscribers a 50 percent discount on most mounts and accessories, up from 20 percent. Both of these incentives will be available globally.
GoPro Plus launched in 2016 as a way to give users access to their footage and photos wherever they are. The company made it possible to automatically upload files to Plus from its cameras, as well as from the GoPro app, which is available on desktop and on mobile. Since its launch, GoPro has added other incentives to Plus like a replacement program for damaged cameras, morphing the service into something that resembles a mix of iCloud and Apple Care.
Woodman told investors during a call in November of last year that at the end of the third quarter of 2018, there were about 185,000 paid and active Plus subscribers. Compared with previous disclosures, that means GoPro spent the last year growing Plus by an average of almost 20,000 paid users per quarter. All told, it’s generating somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million per month for the company.
Encouraging more people to use Plus — even if they store a ton of content without a cap — will only make it cheaper for GoPro on the back end, according to Woodman. “There’s no risk associated with this to GoPro from a business standpoint,” he said. “[Customers] didn’t want to have to think about how much they were capturing. That was a big ask, but we modeled it out, and we recognized that we could offer our customers this value.”
One million dollars a month is a shadow of the hundreds of millions in revenue GoPro generates every quarter from its camera sales. But Woodman has expressed optimism that GoPro will grow the Plus user base even bigger. During that same November call he said only about 25 percent of current GoPro owners are even aware of Plus, according to the company’s revamped in-house customer research division.
Woodman wouldn’t comment on whether that awareness has changed; the company is saving any and all new numbers for when it releases its full 2018 financial results on February 6th. “We’ve been working on improving [awareness], and it still is on the low side for sure, but based on our research, the expanded offerings should significantly increase our customers’ excitement around Plus and drive subscription level,” Woodman said.
There are about 185,000 paid and active GoPro Plus subscribers
There are also new incentives and features coming to Plus this year, according to Woodman, though he wouldn’t say what they are. “We’re focused on bringing those features out as quickly as possible,” he said. “These were just a couple of the features we could get done quickly to expand the offering for both our existing users and new users.” Woodman has also said GoPro is experimenting with different pricing tiers.
All of this is part of GoPro’s more considered and purposeful approach to its business, especially when considering customer research — something Woodman spoke about on The Vergecast late last year. “We were very fortunate that we were successful early on with GoPro, and our gut seemed to be right all the time. This worked for... call it 12 years,” Woodman said at the time.
Unlimited storage isn’t particularly easy to come by in competing cloud services, so GoPro’s decision could help drive subscriptions up, resulting in more revenue. But Woodman said that’s not the only reason for encouraging more users to upload unlimited amounts of footage and photos. There’s “strategic value” in all that data.
“The more we can get their content in the cloud, the more we can do for them in the background,” he said. Many GoPro users still struggle to sort through all of the footage and photos they shoot, according to Woodman. So the more a user uploads to Plus, he argues, the better the company will get at analyzing and surfacing photos and videos those users might care most about. From there, he added, “the more active and the more successful we can help our customers become, the better we do as a business.”