Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

GoPro's Drone Delay Is Bad Karma

By Chris Neiger - May 11, 2016 at 3:41PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

It might help in the short term, but I'm still not convinced a GoPro drone will fix the company.

Image source: GoPro.

With GoPro's (GPRO -4.22%) recent Q1 2016 filings, the company said its long-anticipated Karma drone will be delayed until later this year. That's a change from its original launch window of earlier this year. 

Devices get delayed all the time, for various reasons, so it's not all that surprising GoPro's Karma isn't coming to market yet. 

The company's founder and CEO, Nicholas Woodman, said, "While we had to make the difficult decision to delay our drone, Karma, the upside is that Karma's launch should now benefit from the holidays."

I don't disagree that the holiday season could help Karma sales in the short term, but the delay is not a good thing. Rather, I think GoPro may be taking longer with the Karma because it doesn't know how to set the drone apart from the rest of the market.

Drones everywhere
The high-end drone market may be relatively young, but there are already strong competitors -- and more of them entering all the time. 

Aside from the company's strong action-camera brand, the Karma will have to have at least one or two killer features that set it apart -- and that's becoming increasingly hard to accomplish.

The Karma will likely have a follow-behind feature that allows the drone to fly autonomously and film by itself while the user climbs mountains and skis off of cliffs. But other high-end drones already have these features.

Perhaps the company is delaying the Karma so it can work on the one feature that will set itself apart from the rest of the drone pack, but GoPro's more recent moves don't give me a lot of confidence it can do that. 

GoPro already has an expansion problem
Case in point is the company's Hero4 Session camera that it released this past July. The company overshot demand for the device and priced it too high. As a result, GoPro dropped the price (twice!) from $399 to the eventual $199. The Hero4 Session's failure led to some very poor sales at the end of last year and resulted (at least in part) in the company laying off about 7% of its workforce. 

Secondly, the company recently made its first consumer-facing foray into virtual reality with its Omni VR rig. But the device (if you can call it that) is essentially just a ball that you can mount six GoPro cameras to. If the Omni is any indication of what we can expect from the Karma, then investors and consumers probably don't have a whole lot to look forward to. 

Foolish final thoughts
There's no denying GoPro's stellar camera hardware and its strong brand. But when we look at its development of new product categories, like the smaller Hero4 Session camera and Omni VR cube, there's not a whole lot to indicate that GoPro knows what to do outside of its core camera sales.

That's why I think the Karma is going to have a hard time getting off the ground. If it launches around the holidays, that could certainly help sales, but that's just a short-term gain. The Karma needs to have substantial features that set it apart from the competition in order to help turn GoPro's revenues around -- and so far, that's something the company hasn't quite figured out. 

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

GoPro, Inc. Stock Quote
GoPro, Inc.
$5.57 (-4.22%) $0.24

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/29/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.