GoPro’s drone Karma is its first foray away from cameras. The drone itself looks pretty sleek – something we’d expect coming out of a company whose brand rides so much on their aura of cool. But in some ways, Karma will serve as a litmus test for GoPro’s broader future outlook. The beleaguered company has had a bad year in sales and the drone could be just the infusion of excitement they need to reassure their cagey investors.
GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman showcased the Karma in an event on September 19. This is about six months after the highly anticipated drone was supposed to have launched. The company said earlier they needed more time to fine-tune its differentiating features.
Now it’s here and we get to see what they were crafting all this time. The very first impression is its portability. It tucks away into a custom black backpack with its four propellor arms folded in. Attached is a quality stabilizer to keep video smooth. A video game-style controller comes with a touchscreen display. GoPro wanted to make something you could start tinkering around with right out of the box. Hobbyists will probably love it while hardcore drone enthusiasts might find it limiting.
But there are some notable missing features as well. Travis Hoium at Fool pointed out it won’t come with obstacle avoidance or “follow me” tracking. Both of which can be found on the high-end drone market today.
And at Karma’s price, it’s clearly intending to compete in the high-end market. Without a camera, Karma costs $799. You can add the Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session for $1,099 and $999, respectively.
The current drone market is crowded with devices from companies like DJI, Yuneec and 3D Robotics. But while GoPro is entering the market late, there’s something to be said for the headstart they’ll get with name recognition. Plus, the easy-to-use and easy-on-the-eyes Karma will likely speak to a certain segment of the consumer market. It may be enough to turn around a company whose reported quarterly losses three quarters in a row so far.
Along with Karma, GoPro announced a number of other new launches on the 19th, including the Hero5 camera as well as software to help users edit photos instantly on their phones to upload to Facebook and Instagram. This is likely to address some of the difficulties consumers run into using the cameras.
“The products we’re sharing with you today transform GoPro into an end-to-end storytelling solution that finally makes it easy to capture, edit, and share your life’s best stories,” Woodman said at the launch event.
Karma will be on sale October 23rd just in time for the holiday shopping season.