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GoPro’s New Drone Isn’t Ready For Take Off

May 6, 2016, 1:15 AM UTC
GoPro Inc's founder and CEO Woodman holds a GoPro camera as he celebrates GoPro Inc's IPO at the Nasdaq Market Site in New York
GoPro Inc's founder and CEO Nick Woodman holds a GoPro camera as he celebrates GoPro Inc's IPO at the Nasdaq Market Site in New York City, June 26, 2014. Wearable sports camera maker GoPro Inc's initial public offering was priced at $24 per share, an underwriter said, valuing the company at up to $2.96 billion. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR3VVQU
Photograph by Mike Segar — Reuters

GoPro’s planned drone won’t be taking off anytime soon.

The action-camera maker said that it would delay introducing its much-anticipated Karma drone in the first half of 2016 and will instead start selling it during the holiday season.

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman mentioned the delay during a call with analysts on Thursday without elaborating about the reasons. He acknowledged the abrupt about-face, which he described as a difficult decision, by saying the company had planned to go ahead with the drone as scheduled as recently as earlier this week.

Many investors had considered the unreleased drone as a possible answer to GoPro’s struggles over the past year, during which sales in its core camera business plummeted. The company’s shares, which traded as high as $93 in 2014, have tumbled.

GoPro shares (GPRO) fell 5.51% Thursday in after-hours trading to $10.12.

In response to the crisis, the company said in January that would slash 7 % of its workforce, or nearly 100 jobs. It also wrote down $19 million in additional losses in October when it cut the price of its Hero4 Session camera, which is marketed toward a broader audience.

Several analysts on GoPro’s earnings call on Thursday peppered the company’s executive teams with questions about the delay of its drone. One analyst asked if the delay would affect the yet-to-be-announced release date of GoPro’s Hero5 camera, to which GoPro CFO Brian McGee replied no. The Hero5 camera is another hotly anticipated GoPro product that technology analysts believe could lift sales.

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When another analyst asked if the delay of the drone will give more time for GoPro to revaluate its design and price, Woodman said he was unable to share more information. He did, however, spin the hiccup into a positive by saying the delay would let GoPro release the drone “at a terrific time of the year” in time for the holiday rush.

Still, the company faces a tough battle against more established drone makers like DJI and 3D Robotics. They dominate the market and waiting gives them more time to solidify their market leadership positions.

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DJI released its latest Phantom 4 drone in March that comes with a 4K camera that has received good reviews, for example.

Anxious investors will have to wait until fall or winter to see what features GoPro has planned for its Karma drone. Woodman implied, cryptically, that it would be “much more than a drone” and come with “differentiated features.”

Meanwhile on Thursday, GoPro reported a dismal 50% drop in first quarter sales to $183.5 million. However, it slightly beat analysts expectations. The company also said losses grew seven-fold to 107.5 million in its first quarter.

For GoPro, good news can’t come too soon.