GoPro Stumbles as DJI Flounders

Drone lovers and aerial photography fans have received a double dose of bad news recently, with two big-name companies announcing problems with new products. GoPro’s new Karma drone, only available in shops since a couple of weeks ago, is being recalled due to power failures. In fact, the tech company has had to instruct every customer to send their drone back, regardless of whether they have experienced issues or not. The problem is with the drones losing power in mid-flight, causing them to plummet from the skies, and therefore causing a serious hazard. With over 2,500 drones already sold, it’s both a logistical mess and a marketing nightmare for the company.

An announcement on GoPro’s website read:

We have recalled Karma until we resolve a performance issue related to a loss of power during operation. We plan to resume shipment of Karma once the issue is addressed.

Despite the announcement, concern has arisen over its timing – coinciding with perhaps the biggest news event of the year, viz. the U.S. election – giving rise to fears that the recall may go unnoticed by some. GoPro Chief Executive Nick Woodman went on to say, in the statement:

We are working in close coordination with both the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Federal Aviation Administration. We are very sorry to have inconvenienced our customers and we are taking every step to make the return and refund process as easy as possible.

Go Pro has asked for all Karma drones to be returned, regardless of whether they appear to have problems or not. There has been no word as to when the drones will become available again, as the company has stated it needs to resolve the problem before that can happen. All of which has forced GoPro to refund its customers in full. However, it’s not just the recall that has infuriated pilots and enthusiasts – the refund itself will only be made to customers who return all Karma accessories – making a mockery of the company’s ‘more than a drone’ marketing strategy, that has thus proven to be so popular.

karma-2

One might think that GoPro’s rivals might be exuberant, considering the chaos and bad publicity that is bound to follow the recall. Unfortunately for consumers, the competition has major issues of its own to contend with. Arch rival DJI is currently battling production problems with its Mavic drone. The Mavic – a direct competitor to the GoPro Karma – looks like it will miss the chance to steal a yard on its rival, due to the fact that only a handful of customers have received the drones they ordered, despite weeks of waiting.

The DJI Mavic is experiencing some serious production delays.

The DJI Mavic is experiencing some serious production delays.

All of that could change at any moment, however – assuming that DJI is able to overcome its production issues, the Mavic is going to hit the stores without any commercial rival. Such a situation could be catastrophic for GoPro, combined with the negativity surrounding the recall of the Karma. The next few weeks could be decisive in the long-term struggle for dominance in the drone market.


Andrew Maxwell

Andrew is a former journalist who now works as a freelance writer specializing in tech and gadgets. He currently resides in Thailand.

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