The Drone Report – 2017/2018 (Holiday Period, etc.). – Note – you can pay thousands of dollars for various white papers and guesses as to where the market is headed – many (most) of them are based on questionable data and Hopes & Dreams rather than what is actually happening. While we don’t claim perfection with our report, it does give a number of trends and ideas which are worth considering. NEW – for 2018 we are doing private consulting, speaking, analysis, tutoring and other such Industry efforts. This will mean less of a focus on the Droneflyers.com site…although we are open to partnerships and/or buyers who wish to expand their Drone Web Presence. Please contact us using the form below.
2017 should be considered a consolidation year for the Drone Market. However, questions still remain as to where we go from here. In order to give this report some structure, we will break it up into various categories as follows:
1. The Consumer Camera Drone Market – these are GPS based drones capable of taking stabilized video. The price range is $400 to $2000.
2. The Light and Medium Commercial segments – which can often crossover with the Consumer Drone Market. A price range of $600-$5,000 will be used for this segment.
3. FPV, Racing and DIY – seems to be an entirely different set of users and suppliers and seems to have revived and innovated.
4. Toy Drones – BIG Sellers in terms of quantity of units, but since the retail prices are lower ($10 – $150 for most units), it may be harder for the competitors to sustain profits and market share.
Most of the consumer drone market is controlled by DJI with numerous models in the price range. Other players which may have 2% or larger market share include Parrot (BeBop2), Yuneec, Autel Robotics, Xiaomi and GoPro (Karma Drone). As always, there are a number of other companies trying to muscle in on this market – none seem to have had success.
A subgroup within this category includes mobile controlled GPS models designed for close-in “fun” selfie and follow-me type of shots. Most are based on the Qualcomm SnapDragon reference circuit board which is effectively the “guts” of a camera drone. Wingsland, Hover, Dobby and Yuneec (Breeze) are examples of this type. Sales so far appear to be weak and the prices have dropped from $4-$500 to as low as $199. DJI kept their Spark Drone in two markets by providing an optional remote control – it is also the only model with a mechanical gimbal (vibration-free video) – with discounts, the basic model starts at $350-$400.
Reports from the field, google trends and other indicators show little or no growth in the Consumer Drone segment. One problem is that many pilots already own one or two models which work well – so they are unlikely to buy another until some really advanced features provide them extra value and save them time and money.
This is the first year for GoPro and their Karma Drone and they are surely making SOME sales – however, they are quite late to market and in terms of technology the unit is not at the head of the pack. Suffice it to say that Karma will not be the “game-changer” that GoPro claimed it would…they forecasted sales that would easily make Karma #2 in terms of Drone Revenue and would help save the company from its downward spiral. However, the winner BY FAR of the 2017/2018 Consumer Drone Segment is the DJI Mavic Pro – now available in various packages and colors. It’s safe to say this is a model that will satisfy most hobbyists – and booming sales (Mavic Pro may be the first million-seller model) show that this is what consumers desire.
Yuneec and Autel are plugging along – both are probably having a difficult time with growth….or with profitability for that matter!
But the real surprise of the Holiday Season may be the possible resurrection of Parrot. After 6 years they finally seem to be learning what people want – an R/C Controller! Their products – from the toys to the BeBop 2 FPV, appear to be hot sellers and their commercial line seems to be expanding nicely. I think they finally got someone in the company that the CEO is listening to. That’s the main thing – when you head the wrong direction and the market tells you so – correct it! Parrot was always ahead of their time but never really carved our a particular consumer market except for toys which didn’t satisfy because they flew away. I have recently succumbed and have one of those winged Parrot toys on the way – for $50 with the R/C I want to see if Parrot has changed. We’ll have a review soon! [Read more…]