The mantra from the GoPro CEO and founder Nick Woodman is KARMA is not a drone – it’s a complete system.
The advertised price in the UK is £719.99. Included in this price is a drone, controller, the gimbal stabiliser and camera harness, battery, battery charger, 6 propellers, a handheld karma grip, carry case and finally a mounting ring bracket.
The price does not include the camera. The camera harness takes either a Hero 4 (silver or black), Hero 5 session or Hero 5 Black. These cameras are currently priced in the UK at £279.99 for the Hero 4 Silver and £349.99 for the Hero 5 black.
Earliest delivery is October 2016.
If you price the Karma system components separately there advertised costs are:
- Karma Drone (called the core) – £349 99
- Karma Controller – £249.99
- Karma handheld Grip – £249.99
- Karma Case – £119.99
- Karma Battery – £89.99
There have been many delays in the launch of Karma starting with an initial date of early 2016. Here is the teaser video from December 2015.
In 2014/15 GoPro were set to partner DJI (Dijiang Innovation) but upset DJI’s founder Frank Wang Tao, so there was no deal. DJI produce annual revenue of over $1billion with 70% of its sales outside Asia, so they are a true worldwide leader in non-military drone sales.
GoPro recent financial fortunes are not so impressive. For the three months ending June 30 2016 GoPro’s revenue was only $220m with losses of $76m. For the same quarter in 2015 the revenue was $419m with a profit of $75m.
Investor confidence in GoPro has hit an all time low with shares trading as low as $12 with the share price today at $16.92. The share price was down over 70% over the whole of 2015.
This is a stark contrast to when GoPro floated their shares on Wall Street in June 2014 at $24 and the shares shot up to $94. On floatation Nick Woodman made $86m for his stake in the company.
There are now pending US lawsuits saying that GoPro’s management statements since July 2015 have been false and misleading, specifically related to the sales of the Hero range.
In Nick Woodman’s cautious last corporate statement contained in the 2nd quarter accounts to 30th June 2016, he seems to be saying that the company’s future is wholly reliant on the successful launch of two new products.
“HERO5 and Karma will contribute to the largest introduction of products in our history, all in time for what we believe will be GoPro’s most exciting fourth quarter, ever — a quarter where we expect to return to profitability.”
Are GoPro Upbeat
Their management seem very confident and upbeat, but lets not forget that this is GoPro’s first launch that is not a camera. This is a totally new venture and market, although the management says it’s all about getting a camera up in the sky.
Karma does not seem to be at the cutting edge of Drone technology but a more safe package with the camera well forward designed to remove the props in the camera view. There is also an app that allows a second person to control the camera.
Will Karma be a Success.
Drones are predicted to be the number one present for Christmas 2016. GoPro have a loyal and excited action camera user base, they defined the market.
But drones are different and GoPro are late to the market with DJI, Yuneec, 3DR Parrot and Hubsan to name a few, all fighting for market share.
There are real questions about when Karma deliveries will start. However I think if GoPro don’t have any delivery problems in October we predict they will get bumper sales in the next few months.
Karma and its components are set to compete head on with the DJI Phantom 4 and the Handheld DJI Osmo.
How is Karma Different
GoPro is aiming Karma at non-pilots with the mantra that the user experience is simple to use and simple to fly. The console has been designed like a games console with no antennas or need for a phone.
The 720p 5-inch touch screen display is simple with no pilot terminology and no dials. It comes at drone flying from a different viewpoint, there is no mode1 or 2 and purposely does not feel like an existing drone flight controller.
So in summary I feel that Karma will have initial success over Christmas and early 2017 provided there are no delivery issues. However GoPro are entering a really tough drone market with powerful competition, which can react to price and technology.
I don’t think they will return to profitability as soon as their management is predicting.
GoPro could be facing continuing financial problems and major shareholder unrest in March 2017, if their results are not impressive.