Shake up in helmet cam market: Contour closes, Garmin joins

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This topic contains 24 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Jeff Barber 5 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #121637

    Apparently, and this was news to me today, Contour cameras closed their doors around the beginning of the month:

    Contour Inc., one of the pioneers in wearable camera technology, has abruptly closed its Seattle headquarters — surprising many of its employees and leaving the future of the company unclear.
    Founded in 2004, the company employed more than 70 people at its peak. It has faced stiff competition in recent years from rival GoPro, but Contour had made the prestigious Inc. 500 list as recently as last year with reported 2011 revenues of $27.3 million.

    “As of Friday Contour is CLOSED,” wrote Jacob Hase, the company’s former social media manager, in a public post on his personal Facebook page this week. ”Ya, it shocked all the employees even more. Incredibly hard to just walk away from something you put so much energy into.”

    He added in a follow-up comment, “No one really knows what happened. We were just told we are no longer are employed by Contour and the doors were locked on Friday.”

    Read more here: http://www.geekwire.com/2013/contour-cl … pro-rival/

    But apparently, one of the companies co-founders doesn’t want their legacy to end here:

    “The things we had lined up for (2013 and 2014) were the best things we had ever done, by a pretty long shot,” said Green via phone this afternoon. “We weren’t done showing the world what we could do.”

    He said he didn’t want to provide a sense of false hope, but added, “There’s a part of me that looks at what we’ve got and has some resolve. I don’t know what the future holds, but I don’t see it being void of everything we’ve done or all the people who’ve done it. There’s just too much potential there.”

    Green continues to have an equity stake in Contour but was no longer a member of the board, preferring to focus on product development. He declined to go into detail about the business circumstances that led Contour to close its doors but said he believes the decision was financially responsible and prudent.

    Views from another co-founder, who stepped down as ceo in February, about competing with GoPro:

    At Contour we were winning. But most of the time it felt like we were losing. Despite making what many thought was the best product on the market, the gap between us and GoPro wasn’t shrinking, it was increasing. With each incremental dollar in revenue they gained, the gap widened as they plowed that money back into marketing, forever separating the recognition in consumers’ minds.
    An agonizing feeling, that tele-tubby box of a camera haunted my dreams. The more I saw it the more I wanted to scream inside. Not out of anger, but out of disbelief that something so ugly could take over the market like a tidal wave.

    Read more here: http://www.geekwire.com/2013/contour-co … -world-do/

    And now, hot on the heals of this debacle (which still seems to be cooling), Garmin has announced that THEY are jumping into the helmet cam market:

    GPS specialists Garmin have entered the action camera market with two full HD models. On retail price, the VIRB (US$299.99/£269.99) platform and GPS- and WiFi-enabled VIRB Elite (US$399.99; £349.99) match GoPro’s market-leading HERO3 and HERO3 Black cameras in the States, slightly undercutting them in the UK.
    The VIRB cameras carry a 1.4in colour display screen for immediate playback. Garmin claim the units can capture three hours of HD (1080p) footage on a single charge, and that the lithium-ion batteries can be swapped out easily if the ride is longer than expected. The cameras can take a microSD card, meaning that at maximum capacity of 64Gb users are good for about seven hours of HD footage, say Garmin.

    Both VIRB models feature digital image stabilisation technology, to smooth out footage, and can capture 16MP stills while filming. However, slow motion enthusiasts will be disappointed that the VIRB doesn’t shoot 60 frames per second or higher, meaning the only way to get slowed-down footage is to use third-party interpolation software in the editing suite.

    Image

    Read more here: http://www.bikeradar.com/mtb/news/artic … hed-38170/

  • #121638

    Sucks for the employees of Contour to get locked out without any warning. But, based on my not-at-all positive experience with the Contour GPS camera I received a while back, I’m not surprised they lost market share to GoPro. My camera was super buggy, even after several rounds of software updates, and the mounting system isn’t as good or versatile as GoPro.

  • #121639

    It’s a shame.

    But since the first of the Contour cameras I found the shape a bit odd. Odd in the sense that your limited in the ways you can mount it. GoPro from the start got it right by providing the consumer many mounting options. The release of the new GoPro 3 Black with sharp contrast and faster processing just put it over the top i guess.

  • #121640

    Yeah, the shape of the Contour limited it for biking (no chest mount option) but I agree that the GoPro looks boxy and silly. In this case, function wins out over form.

    The Garmin camera looks a lot like the Drift which I think is a decent camera. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar "doors closed" announcement from Garmin within the next few years. Entry into the helmet cam market is just another sign of desperation as they lose share to smartphones across all their product lines. If/when Apple comes out with the "iWatch" Garmin is really in trouble.

    Garmin, if you’re listening–focus on building killer GPS apps for iOS and Android along with smartphone cases that add functionality (like handlebar mounts and easy to press buttons) to our phones.

  • #121641
    "jeff" wrote

    Garmin, if you’re listening–focus on building killer GPS apps for iOS and Android along with smartphone cases that add functionality (like handlebar mounts and easy to press buttons) to our phones.

    And maybe auxiliary battery …

  • #121642
    "maddslacker" wrote

    And maybe auxiliary battery …

    Exactly. Helmet camera makers are vulnerable to advances in smartphones too… This works pretty dang well:
    http://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-ge … on-camera/

  • #121643

    It’s going to be real hard for Garmin to beat all of the accessories GoPro offers, especially with the camera’s shape. They would be smart to have all of that ready when they bring the cameras to market. I have to agree with an earlier post, I have a feeling Garmin’s entry into the market will be short lived.

  • #121644

    If it hasn’t happened already, I’m pretty sure that we’re going to see even GoPro reach a plateau pretty soon.

    For one thing, the new "wow" factor of HD wearable cameras has worn off–they’re pretty common place.

    2. Despite GoPro’s attempts to constantly release newer and greater products, I don’t foresee the incremental improvements motivating too many upgrade purchases, especially as the years wear on.

    3. Since even the older cameras are still pretty dang good, I think GoPro has got to reach market saturation sometime soon, if they haven’t already.

    4. Add to that competition from smartphones that will only continue to grow…

    …and I’m pretty sure that GoPro will reach a plateau and might even start seeing a decline. Not that they’ll disappear over night, but the explosive popularity has to wear off at some point.

  • #121645

    I will say GoPro is the only ‘wearable’ camera I’ve seen used for making REAL movies/film/tv shows/etc.

    Pay attention to any ‘behind the scenes’ type show about making a movie or something, you’ll see GoPros mounted on cars and stuff like that. Mythbusters uses them too.

  • #121646
    "dgaddis" wrote

    I will say GoPro is the only ‘wearable’ camera I’ve seen used for making REAL movies/film/tv shows/etc.

    Right. And these productions buy dozens of ’em at a time. The cameras are so cheap they’re basically disposable.

    As the cost comes down (and quality goes up) I think people outside of MTB will find even more uses for them.

  • #121647
    "dgaddis" wrote

    I will say GoPro is the only ‘wearable’ camera I’ve seen used for making REAL movies/film/tv shows/etc.

    Pay attention to any ‘behind the scenes’ type show about making a movie or something, you’ll see GoPros mounted on cars and stuff like that. Mythbusters uses them too.

    Dirty Jobs used Contour, and some others have too.

    Lately though GoPro has taken over.

  • #121648

    Watching road bike racing, i found it interesting that most teams mount a GoPro on the hood of their team car to film their racer during TTs (for coaching purposes I would think?). Also, the NBC Sports coverage of road racing in the US now usually includes at least one rider with a GoPro on. It is pretty cool seeing footage from inside the peleton!

    And my thoughts on over-saturation–recently riding Northstar Resort and Downieville, it seemed that more riders are wearing them than aren’t! I would imagine that Youtube has been inundated with GoPro videos!

  • #121649
    "gar29" wrote

    I would imagine that Youtube has been inundated with GoPro videos!

    Yes. GoPro is a major YouTube polluter. 😀

  • #121650
    "jeff" wrote

    [quote="gar29":q3mboyaa]I would imagine that Youtube has been inundated with GoPro videos!

    Yes. GoPro is a major YouTube polluter. 😀[/quote:q3mboyaa]

    When I read that "100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute" (Source) I instantly think that POV cameras have to be responsible. I mean, how else do you generate and upload THAT much footage?!

    PS, did you want to know how much time is wasted on Youtube each month?

    Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year
  • #121651
    "mtbgreg1" wrote

    When I read that "100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute"

    And 99% of it no one cares to watch.

  • #121652
    "dgaddis" wrote

    [quote="mtbgreg1":5v8f62mc]When I read that "100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute"

    And 99% of it no one cares to watch.[/quote:5v8f62mc]

    Ain’t nobody got time fo dat

  • #121653

    I’d love to get a cam for both my sports and work…but all the options bother me. Either I like the design but not the functions (Contour and most other tiny cams) or the functions are great but the design is horrid (GoPro). I think GoPro is just way too bulky to attach to yourself. The only thing I wouldn’t have a problem strapping it to is the sailboat for races. (I do know one guy who wears a GoPro ontop of his head during sailing races. If I did that I feel like I’d keep clipping the camera on the boom of the sail when turning and break the darn thing.) I’ve been looking at cam for ages but won’t buy one until they make something I like – works well and won’t get in the way.

  • #121654
    "mtbgreg1" wrote

    When I read that "100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute" (Source) I instantly think that POV cameras have to be responsible. I mean, how else do you generate and upload THAT much footage?!

    I would bet teens’ cellphones contribute as much unwatchable content as GoPros, likely more.

    "mtbgreg1" wrote

    PS, did you want to know how much time is wasted on Youtube each month?

    At first, you think that the whole world is wasting a lot of work time watching cat and fail videos, but think about this. Today’s generation watches A LOT less television than their parents did. For most, online videos replaced TV entirely. For instance, my brother uses nothing but Youtube, Vimeo and Netflix as his TV content provider, via a Roku. I stare at my laptop for about 12 hours a week while pedaling my trainer and I’m watching Youtube or Netflix when I do it. Ever since Youtube lifted the 10 minute barrier on uploaded video, I’ve been able to find full movies and tv shows to watch. I also imagine that YT is including their paid movie rentals into the mix, which would be a sizable chunk as well.

    Not to say that for many, Youtube is just another Facebook; a site that they use to help them manage to accomplish nothing in a day’s time.

  • #121655

    Ya know what would be sweet? A camera like this one…

    Image

    … that you could just jack into your smartphone in place of the awkward POV.HD hardware shown. I’d slip the phone into my jersey pocket and mount the camera on my helmet and be done with the whole thing. No futzy bluetooth either–give me cable!

  • #121656

    Oooo! That sounds like a great idea! I’ve got no issues with running cables under my jersey, used to it from fencing any ways. And for better quality, worth it. Only if I had a REAL phone now…instead of this piece of ________.

  • #121657
    "schwim" wrote

    At first, you think that the whole world is wasting a lot of work time watching cat and fail videos, but think about this. Today’s generation watches A LOT less television than their parents did. For most, online videos replaced TV entirely. For instance, my brother uses nothing but Youtube, Vimeo and Netflix as his TV content provider, via a Roku. I stare at my laptop for about 12 hours a week while pedaling my trainer and I’m watching Youtube or Netflix when I do it. Ever since Youtube lifted the 10 minute barrier on uploaded video, I’ve been able to find full movies and tv shows to watch. I also imagine that YT is including their paid movie rentals into the mix, which would be a sizable chunk as well.

    I consume all of my favorite TV shows via Netflix or Hulu, so I definitely understand. Haven’t really tried to search for movies or shows on Youtube before… I’ll have to try that out…

  • #121658
    "mtbgreg1" wrote

    [quote="dgaddis":135rwvm7][quote="mtbgreg1":135rwvm7]When I read that "100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute"

    And 99% of it no one cares to watch.[/quote:135rwvm7]

    Ain’t nobody got time fo dat[/quote:135rwvm7]
    OMG that remix was hilarious! 😆

  • #121659

    Sounds like Contour is officially in bankruptcy and the assets will be sold which means the brand may still survive (though under new ownership):

    Contour abruptly shut its doors on August 2, 2013 after protracted negotiations with investors failed to produce a viable funding solution. Remaining assets at the company include an IP portfolio, customer lists and contracts, supplier contracts, accounts receivable and inventories, trademarks, and other assets. The assets will be sold “as is” free and clear of all liens and encumbrances, and the sale will be subject to an agreed Asset Purchase Agreement and final approval by the Court.
  • #121660

    Garmin could have waited and just bought their way in …

  • #121661
    "maddslacker" wrote

    Garmin could have waited and just bought their way in …

    Good point. I have an appointment with Garmin at Interbike and will mention your idea. 😀

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