Is Parrot the Canary in a Coal Mine…or, simply a bird that failed to fly properly?
Recent news stories such as this one at Marketwatch have reported sagging drone sales and massive layoffs at the French Drone maker Parrot. In this article we delve a little deeper in the stories behind the story.
Parrot was my first love. Back in 2012 I heard about these “drones” and watched an online video of the AR Drone flying out of one window of an office building and back into another. I was hooked – and, in fact, started in the hobby as the result of seeing what this drone could do…
Or couldn’t do – which turned out to be the case. Sadly, the story of Parrot and their consumer drones is turning out to be a classic tale which perfectly reflects our own personal experiences with the brand. The French company announced today that it was laying off about 1/3 of its employees after poor drone sales in the latest quarter. One story (at the Verge) mistakenly references “due to industry downturn” – where, in fact, there is no such case. The Consumer Drone Industry is booming and sales are expected to be up 50 to 80% in 2017. The problem for Parrot is that those sales are being made by DJI and to a lesser extent by Autel and Yuneec.
Our Personal Experience with Parrot Products
As mentioned above, the AR Drone was the first flying robot I lusted after – and, so, I plunked down my $300 and bought one direct from the Parrot online shop. After receiving it. I read the manual, charged the battery, downloaded the operating app and headed outside for the maiden flight. I set the drone down on the sidewalk and hit the “takeoff” button on the app – the motors fired up and the drone took over and hovered at about 3 feet high – while I stood there marveling at it’s intelligence. Never before had I seen a craft just hover in the air under computer control – so this was like the Holy Grail to someone who flew model rockets and was a HAM/Computer/Tech freak for decades!
That, unfortunately, was the high point in my Parrot Drone experience. I spent the next couple of days chasing the AR Drone around the neighborhood trying to make it land – even using the emergency shutoff (didn’t work) when it flew away. The upside is that I got a couple pictures from REALLY high up. The downside was that it completely failed as a consumer device. If you had to give it a 1 to 10 rating it would be a 1 or a 2 – 2 being generous. [Read more…]