GoPro recalled its Karma drone around 16 days after it launched in November last year for an issue with the battery. According to CEO Nick Woodman, that can even be fixed with a piece of tape.
The problem with the drone stems from the battery basically popping out a few millimeters and causing a power failure in the drone, Woodman said at TechCrunch’s stage at CES this year. So, if a user that hasn’t returned that drone yet (like our disobedient editor Matt Burns, apparently) wants to fix it, they could do so by basically just keeping it from losing that connection. Burns basically asked if he could tape the battery back in, and it seems like it would work.
“If we have a mechanical issue where the battery backs out, if you came out with a way to keep that battery from backing out a couple millimeters, you’ll be fine,” Woodman said on stage.
Anyway, the drone was still recalled, and the company said it is re-launching the drone this year. The whole fiasco was essentially disaster-level for GoPro, because it kept the company from launching its flagship drone ahead of the critical holiday season. As a result of that and lowered expectations for sales in the holiday season, it’s led to GoPro being a not-so-great public company that’s had a massive decline in its stock price.
For Woodman, that meant the company has had to reset its own expectations and focus on fewer products. Part of that was a restructuring of the company that led to 15% of the workforce being laid off, and Woodman said the company is working to build products that will allow users to instantly transfer the best footage from a GoPro to their smartphone and upload it in seconds, rather than minutes.
“GoPro is doing well. It’s not doing well as a publicly-traded stock,” Woodman said. “The business itself is doing quite well. It’s just not meeting peoples’ expectations. There’s a big difference there.”
That’s gonna be critical, as new peripherals designed for capturing moments come out. The most obvious one is probably the Snapchat Spectacles, which Woodman said would drive awareness — though he seemingly didn’t acknowledge it as a direct threat (which it most definitely is). On the drone front, Woodman said they were just looking to build a good camera on a drone.
“We didn’t seek out to build the most technically advanced drone for people who want to fly drones,” Woodman said. “We built a personal production solution for people who want to capture aerial, smooth handheld footage.”