In 2015, drone startup Lily grabbed attention by promising a handheld unit you could simply throw into the air to activate. It was an ambitious project that collected more than $34 million in preorders, but ended in disaster when its creators couldn’t finance production and had to give everyone refunds. But a company named Mota Group bought the brand name and customer list back in January, and it’s now selling a “next-gen” Lily drone for $499.
The new drone has the same color scheme, design notes, and signature emoji-like face as the failed model. While it now shoots 4K video, many notable features promised by the original model are gone — the new Lily is not waterproof, it has a shorter fly time, and it doesn’t appear to let people launch it by tossing it in the air. Lily originally wanted these features for outdoor-minded people — imagine having your drone float next to your surfboard while you wait for the perfect wave — but Mota Goup doesn’t see the value, saying customers prefer a lower price and longer battery life over waterproofing.
The Lily Next-Gen isn’t offering much in a drone that can’t be found in models already on the market. Brands like DJI offer 4K video and subject tracking, and don’t carry the stigma of the Lily brand as yet another crowdfunded Icarus. Strangely, the company features a 2015 video of the original drone design and its promised capabilities but not one of its new product.
The Lily Next-Gen standard is now being sold at a discount for $499, which will later retail for $599, while the Lily Next-Gen fully loaded package is being sold at a discount for $799, which will later rise to $899.