After what can only be described as a bumpy ride (well, there are probably other ways, but we’re going with ‘bad flight metaphor’), the GoPro Karma Drone’s days are finally numbered.
You’d be forgiven for expecting the world’s leading action camera company to be at the bleeding edge of the drone revolution, but that’s not how things went for GoPro. By the time of the Karma’s release it was already in a dogfight for market share with rivals such as DJI, and the full product recall that followed didn’t help matters.
"Even the fact that it came bundled with the Karma Grip handheld stabiliser wasn’t enough"
It made a comeback ahead of schedule, with snowboard slopestyle queen Jamie Anderson among those featured in the relaunch video, but the Karma still struggled to get a foothold in the drone market. Even the fact that it came bundled with the Karma Grip handheld stabiliser wasn’t enough.
The problem, according to GoPro, was twofold; margins weren’t large enough to make the venture worthwhile in the short term, and “a hostile regulatory environment in Europe and the United States" would make things much more difficult in the long term. Indeed, the laws around drone use have been tightened recently, which (for good or ill) will definitely reduce the number of prospective droners.
Unfortunately, all this means hundreds of job losses at GoPro (most from its now-defunct ‘aerial division’). The company will continue to honour warranties for exisiting Karmas, and you can still buy one until they run out of stock, but that’s all she wrote for the GoPro Karma.
It just goes to show that even highly experienced market leaders can sometimes run into trouble. However, while GoPro has no plans to re-enter the drone world, and have a lot of investor confidence to clamber back, it doesn’t seem wise to write them off. After all, it takes a certain level of talent to start with this and turn it into a household name...