The drone industry is still flourishing, driven by massive revenues, technology advancements, and an extra dose of competitiveness on the market. Projected commercial drone revenue worldwide is off the charts, pushing over $12 billion by 2025. And that’s not counting consumer-grade drone shipments which are experiencing massive growth too.
It’s difficult to find exact stats for the sales of consumer drones worldwide, but industry experts agree the numbers are growing exponentially. It’s not only because of the popularity of drones as aerial selfie devices but because of their adaptation across numerous industries. Contrary to popular belief, the commercial market is what’s pushing the drone industry forward. What started out with the military quickly developed into a sophisticated ecosystem viable across numerous industries.
There’s one name in the industry that’s been there from the start and is still dominating the sales. We’re referring to the China-based drone giant, DJI, the leading drone brand on the market.
Can DJI Keep Its Domination?
We already discussed DJI’s dominance in our 2018 Drone Market Share Analysis piece. In 2019, it’s getting more and more prevalent, with fewer direct competitors than ever before. Still, the stubborn ones have prevailed. Autel Robotics and Parrot are still fighting for a lost cause.
Autel Robotics, however, has a fleet of new models that could jeopardize DJI’s dominance on the highest end of the price spectrum. The EVO 2 drone fleet is going to be a direct DJI Mavic 2 Pro competitor. More precisely, either DJI Mavic 2 Pro or whatever DJI comes up with next in the high-end foldable department. Parrot’s golden goose is their Anafi model, bringing forth a unique twist to the camera department.
But, is another high-end foldable drone that DJI needs to keep its domination on the market? Is another “upgraded” version of DJI Mavic 2 Pro really all we as consumers/prosumers need?
Truth be told, DJI started the whole foldable drone craze… and they might as well end it too. But, what would it take for this trend to end? Would a slightly bigger, Phantom-like device with superb hardware and a reasonable price tag suffice? Well, it definitely would for a portion of DJI buyers. Others, who require a more portable option, will keep hold of their Mavic devices.
But, what should DJI do to keep its domination?
What if they shouldn’t do anything at all? What if the best course of action is having a droneless 2020? That can’t be the case, can it?
It’s either that or jumping on the multiple cameras bandwagon sparked by the smartphone industry. And we’re not just referring to combinations of FLIR’s thermal solutions with regular cameras, but multiple types of “regular” cameras on a single drone. Take Upair Two as the perfect example of following the multiple camera trend.
Under $500 Venture
It’s official, with the arrival of Mavic Mini, DJI now has full control over the mid and high-end drone market. In other words, DJI has finally conquered the drones under $500 section with their all-new foldable model, the only section of the market they couldn’t break through last time out. Spark was there, obviously, but it never took off, probably due to its much inferior camera and the lack of foldability.
DJI Mavic Mini is a true engineering masterpiece. Not only is it below the weight limit, meaning you don’t have to register it with the FAA, but it’s also by far the best drone that can brag with that unique perk. However, Hubsan is turning into a worthy competitor with their Zino and ZIno Pro models. Both of them are under $500 and pose as great alternatives to DJI’s newest creation. And while they are showing off solid numbers, neither of them was able to take the throne off DJI Mavic Mini.
Perhaps the recently released Hubsan Zino 2 will do the trick. It boasts similar performance as DJI Mavic Mini, but offers 4K @60FPS and an even lengthier operating range. The biggest downside is the lack of FAA-friendly focus, meaning Zino 2 is heavier than the limit. It’s four times heavier than the Mini, coming in at over 2 pounds.
DJI Still Ruling Over the High-End Sphere
When it comes to prosumer/commercial drones over $1000, there’s no competition at all. DJI is the only viable option, not just thanks to its mainstream consumer/prosumer models like the Mavic and Phantom lineup, but because of the vast number of industrial machines that can be deployed for anything from surveillance and agriculture to search and rescue missions and 3D mapping.
Even though a big portion of DJI’s commercial lineup comes down to sophisticated aerial platforms for photography/cinematography, there’s a fair share of other platforms too. The Agras lineup is dedicated to agriculture, Matrice devices are considered as great all-around platforms, and the well-known Inspire series is the king of aerial cinematography. DJI is pushing onward with thermal imagery too, installing such technology into several models, allowing them to go on demanding search and rescue missions.
The software side of the deal is not to be taken for granted either. DJI Terra, for instance, is among the most intuitive and sophisticated mapping software. Flighthub and GS Pro are there too, each bringing a different set of tools that can help businesses who’ve opted to use DJI drones for optimizing various processes.
The Competition is On the Rise
Even though DJI is holding the biggest piece of the drones market share, the competition doesn’t seem to be backing off. Yes, the likes of Yuneec and GoPro are out of the picture, as well as a bunch of “indie” models that promised groundbreaking features but heavily underperformed where it mattered the most.
Despite that, Autel Robotics, Parrot, and (in the budget sector) Hubsan are still going strong. As mentioned above, Autel Robotics is getting back into the fire with not one, not two, but three new models. Parrot is still milking Anafi, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the popular French drone brand release a brand-new high-end model. As for Hubsan, their Zino 2 ought to pose as a proper competitor to DJI Mavic Mini. Its predecessor, the original Zino (and Zino Pro) have done a good job, making it almost certain the second generation will give DJI a run for their money…
Whichever way it goes, 2020 is going to be a great year for drones!