With both Amazon and Walmart announcing plans to begin “Black Friday” Sales early (Nov. 1), it’s a safe bet drones will soon be flying off shelves and into our homes. Although it may be too early to tell exactly which sales may prove to be the best values, we can make a few predictions about this year’s drone deals.
Last year, 3D Robotics ran a Cyber-Monday sale that offered $50 off the X8, $100 off the Y6 and $150 off the X8-M. 2014 was busy for 3DR: they introduced several new high-end industrial mapping drone models, updated their flagship model, the Iris, to include a ‘Follow Me’ feature and renamed it the Iris+.
On Black Friday 2012 (before the release of the company’s true ready-to-fly models), 3DR offered $50 discounts on its UAV frames and DIY kits.
Following these trends, the Iris+ will probably drop in price by $50 sometime between Black Friday and December 1 with 3DR’s higher end commercial models receiving discounts of around $100 or more…
As of this writing, Amazon has already dropped the prices of some of DJI’s offerings*:
The Phantom 2 is listed at $579 (Amazon), $679 (DJI.com)
The Phantom 2 Vision is at $799 (Amazon), $799 (DJI.com)
The Phantom 2 Vision+ is $1,159 (Amazon), $1,299 (DJI.com)
You can’t buy the the Phantom FC-40 from DJI anymore but Amazon has it listed at $489, which is pretty inline with what most dealers have it marked at ($499).
So it’s probably safe to say the Vision 2 and FC-40 will drop $100 at some point over the thanksgiving weekend and the existing discounts may get even better. However, if last year is any indication, the price drops may only last for a very limited time (a day or two).
The Parrot AR Drone has consistently seen Black Friday discounts over the past couple years. The original version received a $30 discount in 2011. The AR Drone 2.0 came out the following year and holiday discounts have continued in the $30-$50 range with occasional deals including an extra battery.
Like 3D Robotics, Parrot released some new models this year, including the Rolling Spider drone. The Rolling Spider is more of a toy than anything else and is reasonably priced at $99, so we would be surprised if it goes on sale.
The price of Hubsan’s X4 drones on Amazon seems to fluctuate year round. It never changes more than a few dollars up or down but it rarely stays consistent. What does seem consistent is the fact that hobby shops tend to put 15% discounts on the various X4 packages around Black Friday/Cyber Monday. So, we would expect this trend to continue this year and we believe Amazon may even post a steeper discount.
If the pattern continues this year, the Hubsan X4 could cost as little as $45, making it an excellent entry level UAV for those looking to see what all the fuss is about.
One more thing to consider
In May, Parrot announced the Bebop, a new drone model that aims to up the ante from the AR 2.0. While there has yet to be an official launch date, it would make sense for Parrot to start shipping before the holidays- which could drive the price of the AR 2.0 down as stores make room for new inventory.
Similarly, industry experts are speculating DJI may announce a new product before the holiday season kicks off in earnest.
Regardless of how low drone prices will go, there is little doubt UAVs will remain embedded in the “hot buys” for holiday shopping for decades to come. According to Marketwatch, “drones are among the top autofill responses when users type ‘I want to buy’ on Google, joining regulars such as ‘house,’ ‘car,’ and ‘stock’ and replacing the word ‘gun’ in the top four.”
We will be tracking the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday drone deals, throughout the Thanksgiving weekend right here.
You can also stay up to date by following us on Twitter @Drone_Life!
*In some cases, the reason for the price difference between DJI and Amazon is due to the fact that DJI recently upgraded some of the hardware and software of the Phantom 2.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com