The company, which is holding a showcase to feature demos in San Francisco today, is trying to transform GoPro from a signature line of action cameras into a platform for others to build on and connect to.
"The GoPro Developer Program is a way for us to celebrate the innovative work of our developer community and more importantly, help enable what comes next," GoPro CEO Nick Woodman said in a statement. "We’re grateful to benefit from the collective genius of the participating developers and we’re excited to now officially support their efforts with our developer toolkits."
GoPro says it has more than 100 companies participating in the program, which has quietly been built up over the last year. Those companies include BMW, which is making a lap timer app for driving enthusiasts that connects to GoPro cameras, and Fisher Price, which is developing GoPro mounts for various lines of children's toys to let parents capture milestones from a kid's perspective. Periscope is also an early partner, and the Twitter-owned live streaming app can now connect to GoPro cameras for higher-resolution broadcasting. The new program is similar to efforts GoPro has made in the past, when it struck a deal with Toyota to put action cam mounts in the 2016 Tacoma.
The news comes at a tough time for GoPro. The company's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, posted in February, indicated a 31 percent drop in revenue year over year, and just a month it prior announced it was laying off 7 percent of its workforce. GoPro's stock took a beating as a result, and the company was forced to downgrade its guidance for the year ahead. Part of its troubles are due to a lack of products — GoPro hasn't released a flagship device since its Hero 4 camera line in October 2014. Last year's Hero 4 Session, a small cube-sized camera, was priced too high, the company admitted.
Another reason for GoPro's sluggish sales is the strong longevity of the action camera. Unlike smartphones and other mobile tech, there's very little reason to upgrade from, say, a Hero 3 when it will do its job just fine for years to come. That's where a developer program could come in handy. Partnering with other companies gives GoPro new opportunities to sell parts of its business via third-party products, as well as tying GoPro to other well-known brands like BMW. The developer initiative also helps spread the GoPro name, which has clout in the action sports market, but hasn't quite earned the same recognition in the world of everyday consumers.
In terms of products, there's promise on the horizon. GoPro plans to release a 360-degree consumer-grade camera to take advantage of the growing popularity of interactive film and virtual reality. It's also been teasing its Karma drone for quite some time, which would give the company a brand new market to compete in with the likes of DJI and other quadcopter makers. Earlier this week, GoPro poached a high-profile member of Apple's industrial design team, Danny Coster. That gave its shares a boost, and it's expected Coster will help GoPro deliver on the eventual but still unannounced Hero 5 camera.