GoPro’s Karma is delayed, but CEO Nick Woodman has a consolation for you

This article was originally written for MarketWatch.

The launch of GoPro Inc.’s  drone is going to be delayed until the 2016 holiday season.

The drone, named “Karma,” was initially announced to be released in the first half of 2016. As part of an earnings report Thursday, though, the action-camera company said its highly anticipated flying robot won’t make the deadline it originally promised.

“As late as this week, we believed Karma’s launch was on schedule,” said Nick Woodman, founder and chief executive of GoPro.

“Karma’s features make it much more than a drone,” he added. “To give ourselves more time to fine-tune these features, we have made the difficult decision to push Karma’s launch to the holidays.”

The delay means Karma will have to push even harder to compete in a rapidly evolving consumer drone market. Two of China’s biggest drone makers, DJI and Yuneec, surprised consumers this year with highly advanced drones that have sense and avoid technology, making them nearly crash-proof. Smaller competitors like Autel and Parrot are also making names for themselves in an increasingly crowded consumer drone market.

3D Robotics, which offers the “Solo” drone that failed to compete with DJI and Yuneec’s new technology, cut an undisclosed number of staff earlier this year, according to internal emails obtained by MarketWatch.

“We made too many Solos, especially given how fast our competitors dropped prices and flooded the market,” 3DR President Jeevan Kalanithi wrote.

GoPro’s Woodman would not say if Karma has features that would put it ahead of what’s already available on the market.

“We can’t share any information about how Karma may or may not evolve as we get closer to launch, but what I can share is we are incredibly excited about this product,” he said.

Goldman Sachs says that GoPro’s ”recognizable brand and customer base” could give it an advantage in the consumer drone industry, according to a March report. At 2.2 million units sold in 2015, the global drone market is 20% the size of the GoPro-dominated action camera market in terms of units, according to Goldman Sachs.

With a holiday launch of Karma, all bets are on the fourth quarter.

“The upside about they delay is it does allow us to launch Karma at a wonderful time of year,” Woodman said.

GoPro shares dropped 9% in after-hours trade Thursday after its first-quarter earnings report. GoPro reported a deep loss of $107.5 million, or 78 cents a share, down from a profit of 11 cents a share, or $16.6 million, a year earlier. The company posted an operating loss of $121.4 million, compared with an operating profit of $22.3 million a year earlier.

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