GoPro plans to relaunch its recalled Karma drones this year

Darren Berreclota, right, pilots a GoPro Karma drone during a press event in Olympic Valley, Calif., on Sept. 19.
(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)

Action camera maker GoPro Inc. plans to reintroduce its Karma drone this year, after recalling the drone in November amid reports that some lost power during operation.

The San Mateo, Calif., company said Wednesday that it will release more information in early February about the drone’s global relaunch. GoPro said that it is completing testing of the Karma and that the power loss in a “small number” of the drones was due to a “mechanical issue” related to “securing the drone’s battery.”

The company’s statement did not elaborate further on the problem or the fix. GoPro did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.


Just two weeks after the drone hit store shelves, GoPro recalled the 2,500 Karmas it had sold. Several YouTube videos showed the drone, which has a camera attached, plunging to the ground from midair.

In its November recall notice, GoPro said no injuries or property damage had been reported. Owners could return their drones for a full refund.

Although the drone is just a small part of the company’s plans, analysts say the Karma needs to be part of GoPro’s long-term forecast because of the market potential and because of GoPro’s investment in the product. The company has struggled financially as smartphone cameras have improved.

Joe Wittine, senior equity research analyst at Longbow Research, said he expected the drone to return to shelves in time to take advantage of summer demand. The relatively short amount of time between the recall and Wednesday’s announcement of the reintroduction means that the drone probably didn’t need to be fully re-engineered, he said.

“It seems like they’re confident that they think they have the issue isolated,” he said.

Over the years, GoPro looked to expand beyond its main line of compact cameras designed to capture outdoor adventures. To battle competition from advancing smartphone cameras, the company branched out into entertainment and launched a division focused on professionally produced extreme sports videos. The company also released the Hero5 camera last fall, hoping to attract users wanting an upgrade.

But in late November, GoPro said it would cut more than 200 full-time positions and close its entertainment division.


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