Looking to soar again after its Hero 4 Session crashed on takeoff last year, GoPro yesterday introduced its first drone, the Karma, and two new cameras, the Hero5 Black and the Hero5 Session, at an elaborately staged event in Squaw Valley, Calif. It also unveiled a cloud-based subscription software service, GoPro Plus, that it claims will simplify capturing, editing and sharing content, “establishing GoPro as an end-to-end storytelling solution.”
“We really wanted to make it accessible to everybody,” founder and CEO Nick Woodman says about the drone in a video release. “People are going to be surprised at how easy Karma is to fly.”
“Much is riding on the new products: Mr. Woodman said in July that he expects GoPro to swing back into the black with the two launches, which are pegged to arrive in time for the holiday shopping season,” reports Georgia Wells in the Wall Street Journal. “Sales have plummeted by nearly half in recent quarters after the flop of the Hero 4 Session."
The company lost $91.8 million in its last quarter, its third consecutive earnings report in the red.
“Woodman just wrapped up an epic keynote talk on the product, which included him sharing a real time video of his sons learning to ride their bikes for the first time with no training wheels. Woodman edited the video in front of the crowd in two minutes time using the new Quik app, which also launched today,” Kailee Bradstreet reported live from the event for Transworld Business.
“Woodman left the Karma announcement to last, unveiling a slim backpack he’d worn on stage when making his entrance. From the bag he revealed the new Karma drone, a compact device that fits — alongside a detachable stabilizer — into a sleek case, which can be stored inside the lightweight backpack.”
The BBC’s Dave Lee takes it from there. “As he unveiled it to his audience — a mixture of GoPro staff, athletes and journalists — the crowd’s whoops made the atmosphere at the last Apple launch seem like a genteel afternoon of county cricket,” he writes. Earlier, Lee reveals that “the GoPro story started when Nick Woodman bodged together a camera, strapped it to his hand with a rubber band and went surfing” one fateful day 14 years ago.
“The drone folds up to fit in its case, which can be worn as a backpack, making it easier to transport than some other more cumbersome drones. The stabilizer can also be removed from the drone so that owners can take steady shots on the ground as well,” reports Lisa Eadicicco for Time.
Karma will be available starting Oct. 23 for $799 without a camera. It’s $999 with a Hero5 Session and $1,099 with the Hero5 Black. The cameras alone are $299 and $399, respectively, and will be on sale Oct. 2. A GoPro Plus subscription is $4.99 a month, also starting Oct. 2. The Quik app allows users to edit footage on their phones to create videos for Facebook and Instagram.
“While the Karma is arriving late, and the market is replete with devices from companies like DJI, Yuneec and 3D Robotics, a former GoPro partner, GoPro has not run out of time. Industry experts said that drone sales lagged industry expectations last year, and the new FAA rules on the commercial use of drones passed over the summer may make the devices more popular in the coming years,” reports Ryan Mac for Forbes.
“Unlike most drones these days, the Karma does not have a built-in camera. You just use your GoPro with it — any Hero4 or Hero5 camera,” Brent Rose observes in Wired after praising its design as “user-friendly” and distinctive in a crowded market. “This will offset the cost somewhat and give you more options for upgrading over the years, but it’ll be interesting to see if it adds a level of complication with pairing and such."
“For years now, camera makers big and small have been trying to one-up GoPro in a category it basically created. Now it's GoPro entering a category with a clear leader in DJI,” CNET points out in a preview. “GoPro already has wide brand recognition, though — something DJI's competitors and DJI too, for that matter, can't really claim.
“Combine that brand recognition with the flexibility of using the Karma in the air and on the ground and its potential ease of use, and the Karma might be a spoiler this holiday season,” CNET concludes.