GoPro Inc., known for its rugged camcorder for outdoor adventurers, has unveiled a compact drone designed to record people’s treks from above.
The Karma enters the burgeoning market for consumer drones as one of the first models to be more than a toy, but the quadcopter is coming out a time when several cities and businesses are restricting such aircraft from their skies.
Where it is allowed, the $799 Karma, carrying a separately sold GoPro, is sure to produce majestic images, with dramatic shots lending interest to even the dullest of objects. The foldable drone comes with a grip and backpack, both of which serve as mounts.
“It’s so much more than a drone — it’s Hollywood-caliber stabilization in a backpack you can wear during any activity,” Chief Executive Nick Woodman said Monday during a media event inside an opaque tent assembled on the Squaw Valley Ski Resort’s parking lot.
Financial analysts expect GoPro to sell about 100,000 drones this year and generate more than $50 million from the sales. That might be small for a company that generates $1.5 billion in annual revenue from its virtual monopoly of the action camera industry. But it could restore the company to profitability after bungled product rollouts over the last year, including an overpriced GoPro model that confused consumers and a delay in the Karma launch.
“As long as it costs over $1,000 to buy one of these things, the market is going to be a niche,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst of Jackdaw Research. “But because they’ve also focused on ease of flying and other related features, it’s also a good fit for someone with no experience flying drones.”
A strong reception from critics and analysts could go a long way in repairing the company’s image with consumers and investors.
Shares of GoPro rose about 2.3% Monday to…