Here are the top three commercial drone manufacturers of 2020:
DJI, Yuneec and Parrot all make both consumer-focused drones as well as more enterprise-focused drones. And like those three companies, most of the top players focus on building drones in the <$10,000 price range, suggesting that even commercial players aren’t willing to pay more than $10,000 for a high-end rig.
As part of their report, DII broke down the manufacturers by either commercial drone manufacturers, or what it calls dual-use drone manufacturers, to account for drone makers designing drones for both commercial and governmental use.
Here are the top three dual-use drone manufacturers of 2020:
AeroVironment increased revenues by 17% in fiscal year 2020 from 2019, to $367.3 million. The increase in revenues was primarily due to a $44.7 million increase in product sales and a $8.3 million increase in service revenues. Close behind is Insitu, which Boeing acquired in 2008 for an estimated $400 million.
And Israeli-based Aeronautics rounds out No. 3 after defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems acquired a 50% stake in the company in 2019.
The China factor
Seven of the top 20 companies in DII’s ranking are Chinese.
That said, the dual-use sector (meaning companies who design drones for commercial and governmental) is dominated by US drone manufacturers. That’s not surprising, considering the recent pushback against government agencies using drones.
Anti-Chinese drone sentiment among the U.S. government largely kicked off in 2017, when a memo from the U.S. Army came out that it would prohibit its troops from using DJI drones because of cyber-security concerns. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has also explored an executive order that could ban U.S. federal departments and agencies from buying or using foreign-made drones. That’s opened the door for U.S. drone companies to have a competitive edge.
“With federal governments buying drones made in China, we’re building up China’s military technology, while starving American companies of business,” Spencer Gore, the Founder and CEO of California-based drone maker Impossible Aerospace in an interview earlier this year. “We should stop spending U.S. taxpayer dollars on foreign military technology.”
How can anyone compete with DJI?
DJI is a giant, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for competition. It’s just competition of a different sort — cornering a niche. The big players that weren’t DJI all had one thing in common: marketing to professional solutions in major drone-using industries like energy and construction, or designing drones for uber-niche applications. And there are still American drone manufacturers on the scene, including California-based Skydio, which this year released its Skydio 2 drone, and Teal, which released its Teal Golden Eagle — a commercial drone platform designed for aerial surveillance — to the public.
And whether it’s DJI or some other company, growth is expected for the future. The global drone market size is set to be worth $42.8 billion by 2025, according to another report from DII called The Drone Market Report 2020-2025, which was released in June 2020. It also suggested that the drone industry is expected grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.8%, which means it will just about double in value by 2025 to be worth $42.8 billion.
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