There’s no doubt that GoPro’s move into the drone industry has been a spectacular failure so far. Despite the bravado, the big claims from CEO Nick Woodman and one of the boldest marketing campaigns the industry has seen, the GoPro Karma has been the ultimate let down – not the ultimate end to end life capture system (or whatever it was that we were promised).
Despite being a huge name in the world of consumer technology, GoPro is now in the unenviable position of having an awful lot to prove, at least to drone pilots. As you might expect from people spending hundreds of dollars on a flying camera, reliability is key for buyers when making purchasing decisions. The recall of the Karma has dealt a major blow to GoPro’s credibility in that department.
We still don’t know when or if the Karma’s technical faults will be solved and it will be back on shelves. But in the meantime, GoPro has decided to ease consumer worries/disappointment with a combination of generosity and misdirection.
First came the news that customers asked to send back their faulty Karma drones would receive both a refund and a Hero5 Black camera, worth $400. That’s a generous move by anyone’s standards, and perhaps an admission of exactly how much work GoPro needs to do to get pilots back on side.
Second, GoPro has announced the launch of its Grip as a standalone product. The Grip was originally intended to be the image stabilizing connector between Karma drone and action camera. Now it can be bought separately for $289.99. The handheld gimbal will rival DJI’s Osmo and Yuneec’s SteadyGrip.
GoPro Karma: Will drone pilots forgive and forget?
It’s too soon to say whether pre-orderers of the Karma will take a risk on GoPro’s drone once it’s back on the shelves. It’s likely that many who were sucked in by a fantastic marketing campaign will have a look around at competitors’ drones and spend their money elsewhere. To compound the challenge GoPro now faces, many pilots will steer well clear of the company’s future drones – at least until there are a significant amount of positive reviews. With the company in well-publicized financial difficulty, this dud drone couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Having said that, GoPro remains a hugely popular brand with a very successful line of action cameras. Within that established customer base will be thousands of people who’ve never flown a drone before. Even though the initial launch didn’t go to plan, once the Karma is available again it’s positives will be present for all to see – namely its modular features and easy integration with the rest of GoPro’s products. For current GoPro users it can extend and improve storytelling and photography like nothing else on the market, and that will be enough to ensure it gets a decent second chance.