How many camera drones are being sold? Which brands? At what price? At what profit? Most all of these questions are difficult to answer since the industry consists of private companies – most of whom do not offer guidance or share numbers.
Droneflyers.com has used a number of methods to make educated guesses – including Amazon.com rankings, CES (Consumer Technology Association – CTA) figures and other indicators. To these we can add the more informal “buzz” such as whether a company has laid off large amounts of stuff, delayed updates and new products, etc.
This article will put forward yet another way of counting consumer camera drones – that of using participation and readership of drone forums as a guide. Combining this with additional facts and fuzzy logic, we have been able to come up with some guesses as to the US 2017 drone sales. Note – our total sales number is based on the CTA estimate of approx. 1 Billion dollars in US (wholesale) consumer drones over 250 grams.
For this exercise we used the popular forums such as Phantompilots.com and Mavicpilots.com, assuming that most who visited such forums either owned or were in the market for those particular models. We took measurements over various times and days and averaged them out. As an example, the graphic below shows a small part of the spreadsheet:
As mentioned above, we took a number of similar measurements and then averaged them out. Some measurements were of “logged in” members, other of total readers (logged in and guests). Obviously such data comes with a number of caveats, some of which will be explained below the finished spreadsheet here:
Notes and Caveats
The numbers were adjusted for various realities. For example, the 3DR Solo is discontinued and not being offered in quantity any longer (except incomplete and refurb). It also sees relatively high forum traffic due to the owners needing more support (it doesn’t “just work” like some others). Parrot did not have a matching forums, but I would guess their US sales of BeBop and AR (their camera drones) at 30 Million dollars…the comments in the spreadsheet above mention some of the reasons for the adjusted numbers.
It is our opinion that to even be considered a participant in the 2017 Camera Drone Market, a company should garner 5% of dollar volume sales or higher. Even this would seem unprofitable, but it may give a company hope if they have more products in the pipeline for future release. Based on the above, only Yuneec meets that number – and, they needed all their models added together to do so. As a comparison, just ONE model from DJI (Mavic Pro) could be responsible for 40% or more of all US dollars spent on consumer level camera drones.
If forum action is any indication, the GoPro Karma Drone is not taking off as planned…in fact, the sales guessed at above would be far below any analysts of GoPro’s “whisper” numbers. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine vast numbers of Karmas being sold without the users needing to discuss questions, problems and share stories online.
All in all, these number line up with our other editorials and articles suggesting that there is only one camera drone company which has the potential of sustainability – and that is, of course, DJI. If you wish to read further on this and related subjects, check the articles we have listed under Editorial at this Link.
“Counting Drones” is somewhat of a hobby for us – but our numbers are probably as accurate (or more!) as those of many firms claiming to be “Drone Consultants”. Many industry consultants make no attempt whatsoever at counting and others are involved in subsets (industrial, commercial) of the market. While much fault can be found in the above method(s), the results line up somewhat with other metrics – giving them better odds of being roughly (VERY roughly) accurate.
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