Yet another Failure to Launch! (and, later in the article, some new drones that are actually being produced and sold).
After 18 months of development, GoPro obviously does not have their drone working properly! This is a BIG deal for a number of reasons, some of them given below.
GoPro announced their intention to bring a drone to market in November of 2014 – over 18 months ago! At the time GoPro was worth almost 10 billion dollars (market cap) and therefore had plenty of money to develop a drone or similarly complex product. Moreover, they hired as product manager an employee from 3D Robotics – Pablo Lema – who we can assume brought some existing knowledge into the project. Due to this hire, it’s assumed that the drone uses code (flight controller programming and/or hardware) which was from the same open source project that 3DR used (Arducopter). This, again, should have given them a jump on R&D as they would not have had to develop the flight controller from scratch.
GoPro took their time in developing their new model – which actually seemed like a good idea after the failures of 3DR and others who rushed new models to market. However, events of the past week have now cast a shadow on GoPro’s ability to deliver a groundbreaking product.
Failure to Launch
My inbox and some forums were abuzz in the last week with speculation that GoPro was getting ready to launch the Karma Drone in early June. This date was cast in stone as a major media and PR push was being coordinated around it. Given normal timelines, this meant the drone and spec/literature/ads had to already have been ready. After all, just the shipping and stocking of large quantities of a consumer electronics product from China could easily take a month or more.
Announcement of Further Delay
On thursday, May 5, Nick Woodman (GoPro CEO) announced that the Karma would not be launced as planned and would be further delayed until the “Holiday Season”. Here is a MarketWatch article with those announcements and quotes.
As if to admit his level of cluelessness, the GoPro CEO offered the following quote:
“As late as this week, we believed Karma’s launch was on schedule,” said Nick Woodman
This is virtually impossible. Either Nick was too busy surfing and partying or something else is up. It’s our guess that the levels of management and communication within GoPro are lacking, meaning that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
Here are some select quotes from employees at GoPro which may shed some light on the corporate culture:
“Surfer dude CEO lacks vision and drive. Seems like he has no handle on things.”
“- Too laid back. Nobody seems to have a drive to get things done.
“No promotion path unless you’re in the club of dudes. Limited opportunity for growth.”
“Management needs to stop hiring their buddies from other companies who have no idea what the gopro culture is about.”
“Contractors are second class citizens in GoPro; Management likes the person with high flattering ability, not work ability;”
“The only thing you need to do is kiss up to your boss then you will be fine.”
“The management has been and will most likely continue to make errors in judgement.”
“The CEO has checked out”
Most of these comments are repeated by numerous employees and they make perfect sense when you look at the lack of innovation and poor performance of GoPro.
Bottom Line on Karma in 2016
GoPro has failed to deliver despite having almost unlimited time and money to do so. Even more troubling is/was the inability of the CEO and others to see this until the last minute. At this point we’d have to suggest that those waiting for the GoPro Karma shop elsewhere. Even if they manage to launch before the Holiday Season, it’s never smart to buy the first production runs of a new camera drone. That means we’ll take another deeper look at the Karma in the beginning of 2017.
Two other New Drone Models actually Delivering!
If you are looking for a new drone this spring/summer there is plenty of choice of both existing and new models. Two new models are are the Yuneec H and the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium. The Yunnec is starting to ship in May and there may be a few weeks waiting time as demand is exceeding supply.
The Autel is shipping now and the first reviews seem to indicate that it is a decent machine. That said, it’s very similar in price and features to existing DJI models such as the Phantom 3.