The luster is quickly fading from GoPro Inc’s (NASDAQ:GPRO) announcement of the long-awaited Karma drone. Just as the GoPro Karma was making waves for its innovative folding design and $799 price tag, the roof falls in. Industry leader DJI just announced a folding drone of its own, undercutting the Karma’s starting price and beating it to stores by over a week.
That is some seriously bad timing for the first GoPro drone.
DJI Mavic Pro Drone
Announced Sept. 27, the Mavic Pro is the latest drone from industry leader DJI. Like the GPRO Karma, the Mavic Pro is a full-sized drone with rotor arms that fold to make it much more compact for easier carrying. It has a three-axis camera gimbal, but where the Karma’s gimbal is designed for a Hero 4 or Hero 5 series action camera (sold separately or as part of a package), the Mavic Pro’s gimbal is built for DJI’s own camera.
It’s a 4K, 12-megapixel camera with RAW support and DJI includes the camera in the Mavic Pro’s $749 base price.
In comparison, the GoPro Karma starts at $799, but to get it with the 4K GPRO Hero Black camera, that price jumps to $1,099.
Will DJI’s Move Hurt the GoPro Karma?
GPRO is looking to the new GoPro drone to help its stock recover after a dismal year. Expanding into drones was expected to give a sales revenue boost, but also to prove to investors that the company was more than a one-trick maker of action cameras.
Two of the primary selling points it was counting on to help the GoPro Karma break into the drone market were its compact size (thanks to that unique folding design) and the selling price. DJI’s Phantom 4 starts at $1,199 and its large size isn’t particularly consumer-friendly. With a $799 competitor that could easily fit in a backpack, the GoPro drone was aimed not just at drone enthusiasts, but also at the broader consumer market.
The new Mavic Pro doesn’t offer everything the GoPro Karma does. Notably, the camera gimbal doesn’t double as a hand-held camera stabilizer the way GPRO’s Karma Grip does. And the $749 entry price does not include a controller (that costs extra) — drone pilots would have to use their smartphone for controlling it.
Still, there’s no doubt the Mavic Pro is going to cut into potential GoPro Karma sales. Making things worse, you can pre-order the new DJI drone now and it will be available Oct. 15. You can’t order a GoPro Karma until Oct. 23.
As if the situation wasn’t challenging enough for GPRO, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is already actively promoting the Mavic Pro as an accessory on its website. The Mavic Pro will also be sold in Apple Stores starting in November — just in time to catch that crucial holiday shopping crowd.
At the time of this writing, GPRO stock market hadn’t yet begun to react to DJI’s announcement. However, given how much is riding on the GoPro Karma, investors are unlikely to be thrilled by this challenge to the new GoPro drone.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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