Worldwide Consumer Camera Drone Sales Numbers for 2015 and 2016
As yet another exercise in Rules of Thumb (earlier US guess here), following are some guesses as to the number of consumer camera drones sold. This particular doc will look at unit numbers as opposed to dollars.
GPS enabled Multirotors
Camera(s) and gimbal or equivalent included or expected to be used (GoPro gimbal, etc.)
Price range of $400 – $1500 retail
Capable of at least minimal autonomous flight (RTH, etc.)
SOLD units – not production, but actual retail sales to the consumer.
DJI has released various estimates for their sales in 2014 and 2015 which provide a relatively solid number to start with. Parrot has also hinted at revenue, although this could include large numbers of toy models. Amazon, the largest seller of consumer drones, has various way to determine both sales range and relative numbers – by comparing with other drones and, more importantly, other products (GoPro cameras, etc.) where the sales ranges are well established.
In one respect, it’s only fair to look backwards since that is somewhat of a known quantity. The 2016 numbers, for instance, will include GoPro Karma Drone and Autel Robotics and perhaps some others who have not yet released their first drones.
Taking DJI forecasts of one million drones and assuming the goal was not met due to some drone slowdown at end of year.
900,000 DJI Phantom models sold.
Now, assume as often quoted that DJI has 75% of this particular segment.
1,200,000 $400-$1500 camera drones sold worldwide.
300,000 which are not DJI.
Initial guesswork as to the makeup of those 300K…
90K Parrot BeBop
90K Yuneec Q Series
40K Horizon Chroma (model wasn’t available until late in 2015).
25K 3DR Solo w/gimbal
10K Walkera w/gimbal
10K Wingsland Minivet
30K AEEE (non stabilized camera)
100K Various Cheerson, Hobbyking, FreeX Phantom clones (<350, no gimbal, camera – unreliable)
??? Walkera w/o gimbal
Other misc cheapo units…
From these figures we could guestimate retail $$ market share of the larger players in this way:
DJI – 900K units at $1000 average total ticket (w/batteries, etc.) – 900,000,000 or 77%
Parrot – 90K units at $550 average ticket – 50,000,000 (approx) or 4.3%
Yuneec – 90K units at $1100 average ticket – 100,000,000 or 8.6%
Horizon – 40K units at $1000 average ticket – 40,000,000 or 3.5%
3DR – 25K units at $1200 average ticket – 30,000,000 or 2.6%
Other companies listed combined – 55K at $700 ticket – 40,000,000 or 3.4%
Retail dollars for consumer GPS camera drones – $1.16 Billion dollars or $1,160,000,000
Note – this is not related to the gross income or profit of the companies involved because it’s retail price! The companies get a fraction of that and some companies (Horizon, Parrot, etc.) sell many other products.
The Elephant in the Room Theory
No doubt some will take exception to my numbers and calculations by claiming that I started – and therefore ended – with DJI having the lions share of the business. However, this market share is buttressed by MANY data points including:
1. Amazon Sales
2. Forum participation/members/posts
3. DJI Employee count and expenditures (opening factory stores, large US R&D center, etc.)
4. Informal data from prosumers and lower end commercial users – as well as FAA Exemptions.
5. “In your face” data – I’ve been all around the country and when I see another drone “in the wild” it’s almost always a DJI. If these other models were popular, they would be being flown, carried, showing up in news photos, etc.
All experts and pundits have agreed on one thing when it comes to drone numbers – and that is that ALL of the various numbers being floated are guesswork and many are so far off as to be irrelevant. While I make no claim that the above is the accurate picture, it is evidence based as opposed to being the guess of a think tank that counts $15 and $15,000 drones as the same thing. In addition, we have clearly stated the basic criteria involved so we don’t have to speculate about $$ vs. units and/or what type of units count and which do not.
Conclusion – In terms of actual value ($$) percentages of the worldwide consumer electronic camera drone business ($400-$1500 models), the final 4 look like this:
1. DJI – 77%
2. Yuneec – 8.6%
3. Parrot – 4.3%
4. Horizon – 3.5%
In our opinion, >5% (and ideally 10%) is the minimum number required to keep a company which makes consumer drones in the present game. This is due to the R&D and economy of scale needed to produce even a minimum viable product. Companies like Parrot and Horizon (Blade) are an exception since they produce many other models of R/C equipment as well as (Parrot) other product lines which help keep the company thriving. At the wholesale or manufacturer level, the 2016 consumer drone sales in the price range we are discussing here are likely to be in the realm of 1 to 1.4 billion dollars. A 5% share would be 50 to 70 million dollars and a 10% share 100 to 140 million.
Coming Soon – a 2016 Forecast using similar criteria and methodology.