Shenzen, China-based DJI Innovations (DJI) is widely considered the leading manufacturer of consumer drones, and is increasingly grabbing market share in the commercial UAV industry. With Frost & Sullivan estimating a 70% market share by revenue in the consumer drone space, DJI is constantly releasing new hardware and software that pushes the entire drone industry forward. 

Given it’s market leadership position, I’d like to highlight two notable products released by DJI this year and consider some of the potential opportunities that these kinds of drones make possible. With research from Frost & Sullivan, various links, podcasts, and videos I’ll try to paint a picture of where things might be headed with DJI and drones more generally in 2017.

The two drones I’d like to take a look at are the DJI Mavic Pro & Matrice 600 Pro. These two drones are on the opposite ends of the DJI product spectrum, representing the latest in both consumer and professional drone equipment. The Mavic Pro retails for $1,200 US with a remote, while the Matrice 600 starts at around $5,000 US and goes up from there depending on sensor options. DJI’s other two most popular drones, the Phantom 4 Pro and the Inspire 2 retail starting at $1,500 US and $3,000 US respectively.  


The most impressive thing about the Mavic Pro is how much intelligence DJI was able to pack into such a small aircraft. Weighing less than 2 pounds and smaller than a carton of eggs, the Mavic Pro is capable of advanced situational awareness and autonomous flight including object detection & avoidance, pin-point positional accuracy, and a smartphone-connected controller that allows pilots both precision control and automated flight modes. 

Casey Neistat’s Review of the Mavic Pro

FliteTest’s Review of the Mavic Pro

In contrast to the consumer-oriented Mavic Pro, the Matrice 600 Pro is one of DJI’s most advanced professional drone platforms designed for extensive customization and industrial applications. The (base) $5,000 US hexacopter offers the Zenmuse Z30 camera which has a 30x optical zoom for the kinds of extreme close-ups required in commercial applications such as surveying, inspections, and law enforcement. Not only does the Matrice line offer a powerful sensor platform, it’s conceivable that new propulsion systems such as hydrogen fuel cells (that make flight times of hours possible, instead of minutes with LiPO batteries), could be compatible with drones such as the Matrice 600 Pro.  

dji-matrice-600-pro-professional-aerial-hexacopter-platform-add-3-512px-512pxAerialMediaPro’s Ultimate Industrial Drone Package

With these two drones as proxies for leading systems in both consumer & professional segments, the drone market observer might ask a few questions:

(a) To what extent will DJI’s $1,200, super-portable, Mavic Pro grow the consumer UAV/drone industry? GoPro also released a foldable drone recently, but reviews haven’t been as glowing as compared to the Mavic.

(b) What might be the effect of having thousands, and eventually tens of thousands of these super portable, super intelligent, and very affordable flying machines in the skies? What capabilities do these drones give photographers & media professionals, small businesses, and large organizations amongst many other (shadier) applications?

(c) What new applications and business models are emerging? With FAA Part 107 regulations in place in the US and Transport Canada regulations allowing commercial operations in Canada since 2014, the market for drone service providers has established itself and has been growing for many years.

(d) What are some of the common business models/strategies being pursued in the UAV and UAV service provider industry?

(e) What are the latest technical and product innovations (both hardware & software) by companies other than DJI?

(f) What are the best pilots doing? (TeamBlack Sheep, Drone Racing League, etc.)

I will continue to explore these questions and many more in future research posts.

Stay tuned.

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