Just in case there was any lingering doubt about it, GoPro has confirmed that the Karma drone will be its first and last attempt to make a magnificent flying machine – the company is getting out of the drone business and putting the focus back on its action cameras.
“Although Karma reached the number two market position in its price band in 2017, the product faces margin challenges in an extremely competitive aerial market,” said GoPro in an earnings report. “Furthermore, a hostile regulatory environment in Europe and the United States will likely reduce the total addressable market in the years ahead.”
To put it another way, it’s hard to make money selling drones, especially when the pool of people looking to buy one is relatively small, and the authorities don’t really like them. GoPro says it will quit making drones once the Karma inventory is sold, but will provide service and support to those customers who’ve already bought one.
Not flying so high
Oh what high hopes we had for the Karma when it launched back in October 2016. It was actually a very decent bit of kit, but hardware faults and recalls had an impact on sales, as did the fact that GoPro was taking on bigger players who had been in the drone business for a lot longer.
Rumors of staff layoffs and a change in direction first appeared before the weekend, but now GoPro has made it official. Employee numbers will shrink by several hundred, as the company aims for a “sharper focus” in 2018.
Today’s report does promise some new products coming down the pipe, though it admits that demand for the Hero5 Black camera has been “soft”. Sales of the more powerful Hero6 Black model were “as expected”, but GoPro warned investors that it had made less money over Christmas than it had predicted.