Why GoPro Gave Up on Its Karma Drone Even Though It Was a Success


Since its release, GoPro has taken over the portable digital video camera as no one else has. It became a reference for comfortable shooting in more circumstances than it was possible before. GoPro gave a new meaning to video making. Backed-up by technology, the company took another brave step and entered the world of drones. While successfully selling its core products, it also conquered a new market and became the manufacturer of the best drone for GoPro cameras.

The initiative was brave and well received. Sales numbers grew, as well as media attention. However, this year GoPro made headlines again by announcing it lets of a famous product and a few hundred jobs. The company quit producing GoPro Karma, leaving room for others to sell the best drone for GoPro. Yet, the product was a huge success.

What happened to the best drone for GoPro?

The GoPro Karma quickly earned the market, after its release in October 2016. It was the only drone with official approval from GoPro and undoubted compatibility with the cameras. GoPro Karma quickly earned the hearts of aerial shooting enthusiasts and topped the review charts. According to Today Best Drone, the product’s price of around $800 – $1,000 pays up for its lightweight, smooth operating, professional stabilizer, and fold-up option. You can read this article to see why both experts and customers agree that Karma is the best drone for GoPro.

On January 9th, 2018, GoPro representatives announced that the company would stop producing GoPro Karma drones and ditch about 200 – 300 jobs from their technical department.

The official reason? Although the product reached #2 market position in its price band in the former year, it faces challenges due to an extremely competitive aerial market. Company reps also mentioned that European and American drone regulations would reduce the total addressable market in the years ahead. Therefore, the market would become untenable.

Since then, GoPro sells its remaining Karma inventory by discount and continues to provide support and service for drone customers. However, once the stock is empty, GoPro exits the market.

Another reason? Sales failed to meet expectations. According to the statement, the company came in at $340 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017, instead of the estimated $470 million.

Official statements usually lack or subtly include the reasons why a product would be ditched. However, based on context and the drone market, here are the possible facts that might have led to such a decision.

Why did GoPro ditch the Karma drone?

Rushing into the market: The company discovered a new market that would quickly expand. Drones easily crossed the line between official and mass usage. Products appeared almost overnight. Now, you have regular drones, DSLR camera products, drones you can control through a smartphone app and even other products compatible with GoPro cameras. The company wanted to grab a piece of the market and quickly manufactured a product. GoPro’s drone was released carrying a unique selling proposition of being officially approved and 100% compatible with GoPro Hero cameras. Manufacturers failed to see that the market was dominated by DJI brand which launched its first line of products back in 2013. DJI also offered drones with their own cameras.

Not focusing on product verification: A brief scandal forced GoPro to call back all its drones in November 2016. The product faced a scandal due to battery failure issues, and the drone was relaunched in February 2017. Some claim that the company failed to focus on the test phase and rushed the product into a higher premium market – technically speaking.

Underestimating competition: The market was flooded with drones when the GoPro Karma drones appeared. However, one rival would take most of the credit – DJI, founded in 2006, which produced its first drones in 2011. GoPro entered a market that already had two challenges. Everyone had expectations from GoPro. Also, every drone enthusiast would compare GoPro Karma with products available from DJI. Some critics claim that the Mavic Pro DJI drone is lighter, cheaper, comes with higher maximum speed and better battery life. GoPro later added a follow me feature to the Karma drone that remained almost unnoticed.

Where does the GoPro Karma drone stand?

The GoPro Karma drone is still available to purchase on Amazon and the manufacturer’s website. However, why would anyone take an interest in buying a product its manufacturer ditched?

  • GoPro still provides service and support across the USA for the drone. Probably, it will do so for years to come.
  • The GoPro Karma drones have been reviewed, and the battery issues have solved. Also, the follow me feature is included in all products. So, when the battery is low, the drone returns to its handler.
  • The drone is on sale, and you can purchase it for a convenient price.
  • Regardless of the public discussions, customers still place the GoPro Karma drones on top of their preferences in 2018, as you can see on reviews.
  • The product is compact and foldable so that you can take it with you on trips.
  • The drone comes with a stabilizer to ensure shake-free videos from any setting or position.
  • Karma is compatible with the camera you already have, as its designed by GoPro. If there’s any such doubt regardless other products, here GoPro first considered GoPro camera users.

Wrap Up

Karma is still the best drone for GoPro cameras, even though it faced some headlines and an official announcement of production end. Videos taken with such drones are now viral. The product can stand up tight competition despite its inconvenient of becoming a collectable.

EU and American regulations apply to all drones, regardless of their manufacturers. Therefore, even though the statement mentions them, you will still need to research before taking any drone with you on a plane or a different country. Once you grab the drone and start shooting, you build up travel memories from an entirely new perspective – the aerial one.


Guest Post By Gavin Hobbs