GoPro has agreed to buy Kolor, a French-based software maker specialized in virtual reality and spherical media solutions, for an undisclosed sum. All of Kolor's employees are to join Go Pro but they will remain at the French company's head office in the Savoie region near Montmélian.
Spherical media offer a panoramic content that can be viewed on mobile devices, on the internet or in a virtual reality environment. The point of the acquisition is to combine GoPro capture devices with Kolor software to deliver spherical content.
Go Pro described spherical content as an essential part of virtual reality, which is about to storm the entertainment and education industries. Its announcement was thus accompanied with a clip filmed with several cameras and “stitched” with Kolor software. The user can navigate through the clip to watch the sequence from various angles.
Some tech-savvy commentators pointed out that Go Pro was preparing for the launch of virtual reality headsets by the likes of Samsung, Google and Sony. They are all working on their own technology to compete with the Oculus Rift, whose maker was purchased by Facebook for about $2 billion last year. Go Pro has also been investing in drones, with prototypes of drones for personal use to be launched later this year.
The news of the acquisition came just as GoPro released figures for another quarter of rapid expansion. Its sales soared by 54.0 percent to $363.1 million for the first quarter of this year. The gross margin jumped by 4.2 percentage points to 45.1 percent and operating income reached $22.3 million, up from $16.6 million for the same quarter last year. The company's net income more than doubled to $16.8 million for the three months.
GoPro saw its international sales reach more than half of its turnover in the quarter, as sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific advanced by 66 percent. Awareness of the brand continues to rise, with a study showing a 70 percent increase in aided awareness of the GoPro brand in the quarter, compared with the same quarter last year, in nine countries across five continents.
The competition is heating up with the entry of TomTom from the Netherlands, which just announced the launch of its first GPS-enabled digital action camera. The company claims that its Bandit Action Camera is the first ever camera to come with a built-in media server – enabling the user to edit and share the footage without downloading it.