SQUAW VALLEY, United States: GoPro took to the sky Monday with a Karma drone tailored for its first-person-action mini-cameras as part of a move to become a platform for modern-day storytelling.
GoPro founder and chief executive Nick Woodman unveiled Karma while introducing new Hero5 cameras and a cloud-based service for storing, editing and sharing video.
“We want to help you all become great storytellers,” Woodman said after making a rock-star entrance at a media event in a tent at the Squaw Valley ski area where the 1960 Winter Olympic Games were held.
“We transformed GoPro into an end-to-end storytelling solution.”
Karma drones will be priced at $799 when they become available starting on October 23.
The drones boast simple joystick and touch-screen controls, and fold easily into a padded backpack that is provided.
An image-stabilizing grip in the drone is designed to hold Hero cameras, which are not included in the backpack.
GoPro’s much anticipated entry into the drone market comes as the California-based company strives to distinguish itself in an increasingly competitive market for mini-cameras that can be used to capture adventures or sports from personal perspectives.
The new Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session cameras, which boast features such as multi-language voice control and ultra-high-definition image quality, will be available on October 2 with pricing of $399 and $299, respectively.
Karma drones bundled with Hero5 cameras will be priced at $1,099 or $999, depending on whether a Black or Session model is selected.
Action in the cloud
The company is setting out to build its adventure-oriented community, and create a steady revenue stream, with a GoPro Plus subscription service that uploads imagery to the internet cloud and provides simple tools for editing and sharing from smartphones or desktop computers.
GoPro Plus will cost $4.99 per month after it becomes available to the public on October 2.
Smartphone applications were crafted to let people edit or even remotely control cameras from Apple or Android powered handsets.
Woodman said GoPro was packing more into its cameras, and making it easy for users to quickly compose story vignettes to share, whether doing adventure sports or enjoying beautiful moments.
“Get out there and live a big life everybody, that is what it is all about,” Woodman said as he wrapped up the media event.
People at the gathering took to the mountain at Squaw Valley to try flying Karma drones and put new GoPro Hero cameras through paces zip-lining, trampoline bouncing, horseback riding, rock climbing and more.
Hope for the holidays
GoPro is rolling out Karma and improved Hero5 cameras on the cusp of the important year-end holiday shopping season.
The company said it lost about $34.5 million during the holiday season quarter that ended last year, as
revenue sank some 31 percent to $436.6 million when compared to the same three-month period in 2014.
GoPro early this year launched a program to collaborate with outside developers to make it easy to use the company’s mini cameras with apps or synch them with other devices.
The company also hired away an Apple veteran to become vice president of the GoPro design team.
GoPro became an early hit with extreme sports enthusiasts who used the mini-cameras to film their exploits, and went on to win over teens and young adults interested in sharing videos on YouTube and social networks.
Woodman said on Monday that more than 20 million GoPro cameras have “captured the incredible.”
The company went public in June 2014 with shares initially priced at $24 that soared in subsequent months, more than tripling in value at one point.
But the stock price slid last year as investors worried about the company’s growth prospects and the possible saturation of an increasingly competitive market.
GoPro shares were up about 2.3 percent to $15.31 at the close of trading on the Nasdaq exchange on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).