Camera Shake-Up: GoPro Licenses IP, Lytro Reportedly Sells to Google

Two news bits revealed a major shake-up in the camera market this week: First, Techcrunch reported that light-field camera maker Lytro is in the process of selling itself to Google for pennies on the dollar. Then, action cam maker GoPro announced that it is licensing some of its design and intellectual property for the use in third-party devices.

Lytro started out as a consumer camera maker with a focus on light-field technology, which is capable of capturing all of the rays of light within a certain space as they bounce around in all directions. This made it possible for photographers to capture tons of data with every raw photo, and then decide on their point of focus later-on.

The company ultimately found the consumer market to challenging, and instead focused on the development of high-end light-field cameras for the capture of volumetric VR video, as well as for next-generation cinematic video. Lytro started testing these cameras with select partners, and raised more than $200 million in total.

This week, Techcrunch reported that it is now selling for far less, with Google reportedly only shelling out between $25 million and $40 million for Lytro’s assets. A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the report; Lytro didn’t respond to a request for comment.

On Thursday, GoPro announced a major strategic move of its own: The struggling action cam maker is licensing some of its IP to Jabil, a company that has already been manufacturing some of GoPro’s cameras. Under the licensing agreement, Jabil will manufacture smart home cameras as well as body cams for police and firefighters using GoPro’s lenses and sensors. However, the products won’t be GoPro-branded.

The deal could help GoPro’s bottom line with some additional licensing revenue, but it’s also a stark admission that the company has given up on branching out in additional markets on its own. In January, GoPro had to exit the drone business after failing to establish its Karma drone against competitors like DJI.

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