Surprise! Drone Sales Double

A new report from the NPD Group reveals that drone sales more than doubled (up 117% to be exact) from February 2016 to February 2017. That’s a big jump, clearly showing the strength of consumers drones in the market. These sales numbers include the a wide variety of drones from $50 mini-drones (which are really just toys) to the $3,000 DJI Inspire 2.

Here are some useful tidbits from the NPD report:

  • During the holiday season drones with a price tag between $50- $100 saw a significant uptick in sales.
  • For drones in the $300-$500 price range, there is a clear consumer demand for premium features.
    • Drones with auto pilot capabilities sold nearly five times more quickly.
    • Drones that feature follow mode functionality sold 19x more quickly.
  • During the first two months of 2017…
    • Drones with a price tag over $300 drove 84% of dollar sales and nearly 40% of unit sales.
    • Drones sold for $1,000+ saw the highest rate of sales.

In roughly the same time period from January 2016 to January 2017 the number of drones registered with the FAA when up by 123%. And according to the numbers in the last two months over 100,000 more drones have been registered with the FAA.

Don’t Ignore China’s Drone Market

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The last few years the drone industry has soared to new heights thanks to China. In a recent report, the China Business Review relays that 5 of the top 11 venture-capital funded drone companies are Chinese. On top of this, in 2015 Chinese drone giant DJI is estimated to have made up 70% of the drone market alone.

But China is not just exporting drones; its commercial sector has a vivacious appetite for this new technology. A lot of this has to do with the current economic and business environment in China. All over China the cost of labor is increasing, to help offset this rise, many parts of the Chinese economy are looking to technology like drones. In agriculture drones make the spraying of pesticides and fertilizers more efficient and Chinese provinces (Henan, Zhejiang, and Hubei) are already offering training and financial reimbursements for those that give drones a try.

Chinese internet giant JD.com is far head of its American counterpart Amazon and already is making thousands of drone deliveries. Additionally, JD is currently working with cooperative government agencies to expand drone delivery further. China is also pushing drone use in construction, sensing/mapping and film. In fact, today on a motion picture produced anywhere in the world it would be hard not to find a Chinese made drone somewhere on the set.

In the future new players will certainly arise, but for the time being China’s drone industry will still set the pace. But it also has plenty of investment opportunities. Just has Intel who has invested over $60 million in Chinese drone manufacture Yuneec.