Recently, Contour, the maker of pov helmet cameras for the action sports enthusiasts have closed down their operations, as reported by a few newsgroups. This comes as a surprise to me, but not actually shocking.Â The reason being is that I’ve noticed what appeared to me as a slow down in development, when it seemed that they would’ve been accelerating had business been going better for them.
With the valuation of Contour’s biggest competitor, GoPro, being overÂ 2 billion dollars, I certainly would’ve thought that there would be enough room in the industry for at least a nominal sales competitor. I find it especially interesting when you factor in the diverse form factors involved of the two manufacturers. Hands down, I thought the Contour’s had a step up on GoPro, from a form perspective and the ability to rotate the camera lens depending on the chosen mounting method. Even with some of the reviews stating the GoPro’s being marginally better in some attributes, I found it quite surprising the sales disparity between the two products.
I get that in some respects that Contour was a little behind GoPro. The Hero’s came with a waterproof case and the Contour waterproof caseÂ was a separate purchase. That is until the ROAM and ROAM2 cam’s became available as theyÂ are waterproof without needing no stinking case. So, behind a little in a few areasÂ yes, but not to the effect that the #2 pov firm would be knocked out of business.
In this case, the GoPro vs Contour war must’ve been played out on the marketing death match field. It did seem like ever action sports event was sponsored by GoPro and that every dominate athlete was also wearing a GoPro helmet cam. Did you see the latest X-Games? The drifting cars had between 4 – 6 cameras mounted on the hoods, roofs and doors.
I’ve followed Contour since they changed names from VholdR and up until recently, eagerly awaited their next upgrade or their next product. About a year ago, I noticed that the software app for viewing live pov action though the camera via bluetoothÂ onÂ a cellphone didn’t seem to be keep up with the other apps on the market.Â Most apps were getting consistent updates, whereas the Contour,Â unfortuneatley wasn’t. Â Early lastÂ Fall, theÂ waterproof ROAM2 & the Contour2’sÂ were released. Â I figured both of these new models were going to be great and finally produce a breakthrough for Contour and one upÂ the GoPro’s newest release, the GoPro Hero3.
However, the Contour ROAM2 was an improvement, but nowhere near a breakthrough. Not to say the latest GoPro was either, but other than the ROAM being waterproof and no case being necessary, the improvements inÂ functionality wereÂ improved on and the video was incrementally better as well, but certainly not byÂ leaps and bounds. Without the breakthrough and subsequent media push, I guess in hindsight, this would be the beginning of the end for Contour. Even their social media was pretty quiet from what I saw concerning the latest releases, which was surprising to me as many a grassroots company has sprung up and evolved on the strength of social media.
Contour co-founder, Jason Green,Â offers hope that it may not be completely over for the Seattle base company. I am thinking of the possibility, that maybe a bigger fish, such as Garmin who just released its first pov helmetcam on the market, can pick up the Contour technologyÂ and utilize its patents and technology. Contour did have many things going right for them, but obviously there were more areas where they foundered. As for the military, the Contour seemed like a good fit with the unobtrusive camera location on both a helmet and gun barrel.
I will continue to use my waterproof ROAM2 to capture action video for the immediate future. But once another device surfaces that better captures action sports video, I will have to jump on the newer technology.
As for purchasing the Contour’s, I’m sure the prices will drop and you will be able to find some awesome deals on them. The caveat being, there won’t be any support and you will have to rely on the merchant for warranty or replacement.
– Lane Lawrence
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