GoPro: Its Drone Must Fly High

Delay of its first quadcopter is a painful move as camera sales slump A GoPro Hero 4 camera on display at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas.

A GoPro Hero 4 camera on display at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas. PHOTO: DAVID BECKER/GETTY IMAGES By DAN GALLAGHER

Getting a new product right the first time is never easy. GoPro needs to be more right than most.

Customers—and particularly investors—have been awaiting GoPro’s first quadcopter drone for a year now. Expected to go on sale by the end of June, the company said Thursday it was delaying the launch to fine-tune the product more. The device is now expected to become available around the holidays.

It is a painful move for a company that has already shed 80% of its market value in the last year. GoPro’s action-camera business is in an unprecedented slump, turning its once-healthy bottom line red. Efforts to expand beyond the company’s base have also stumbled.

That’s why it is important for GoPro to get this new product right. Simply put, it is running out of chances.

The drone market is still in its early days, but already has a huge number of competitors that includes a very big one. GoPro has strong retail distribution channels and a respected brand. But its chances in the drone business are slim if it doesn’t bring new innovations to the table.

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