Why GoPro’s Karma Drone Came Crashing Down
” When GoPro launched its Karma drone earlier this year, it seemed like the perfect fit. The company was founded on action cameras, but had seen sales of its flagship Hero line sink since 2014. Over the same time period, the sale of camera drones to consumers had exploded. By bundling its camera with a drone, GoPro could breathe new life into a flagging product line.
Unfortunately for GoPro, its Karma drones started falling out of the sky in alarming numbers, and the company was forced to issue a recall. It’s hard to imagine that GoPro went to market thinking something like this might happen, and of course the company would strive to produce a safe, reliable product. But discussions with drone industry experts and sources familiar with the process of engineering and designing the Karma drone, show that the company should have been prepared for exactly this kind of incident.”
” People think it is so easy to build a small, autonomous drone. It’s really not,” says Michael Blades, a drone industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan. “DJI is a drone company. [GoPro] is a camera company. It doesn’t surprise me that they are having technical problems with their first drone product, even after the delays. That’s actually to be expected.” This piece, published before Karma units reached the public and reports of failures hit the internet, predicted the problems to a T.
The web is littered with forum posts, Facebook rants, and YouTube videos from angry customers who bought drones from DJI, Yuneec, Parrot, and 3D Robotics over the past three years, only to have them fall out of the sky. Plenty more drones flew off at random and never returned home. “DJI has gone through the Phantom, P2, P3, and P4 as well as the Inspire (which has had it’s own hiccups) to work out the kinks in stabilization of the aircraft and robustness of their subsystems,” says Blades. “If [GoPro] expected to have a perfect product in Karma, they were dreaming.”