At least not for the moment, says Jordi Munoz, co-founder and president of the largest US commercial drone operation, 3D Robotics.
“The smartphone was a product that was intended for a consumer market, and now it went all the way to industrial applications and even the medical industry,” Munoz says. “The same is happening with drones.”
We’re sitting on the second floor of 3DR’s San Diego office where, from the window facing south, you can see Tijuana. The Mexican city, less than 10 miles away, is where Munoz grew up. It’s also where 3DR’s first manufacturing facility sits.
Munoz was just 20 years old when he got involved in the drone market eight years ago. A mostly self-taught programmer, he learned from the Internet and earned what he calls a “Google Ph.D.”
Drones, he believes, are a market that’s still primed for growth.
3DR started in 2009 selling Lego drone kits in pizza boxes; the first run of 40 sold out in 10 minutes. Today, 3DR sells seven models ranging in price from $550 do-it-yourself kits to $5,400 professional-grade devices. The company has more than 350 employees and is on track to rack up $40 million in sales this year.
Drones will truly take off, he says, when people figure out how best to use them beyond photography and for the simple fun of flying. What that means is that, as with smartphones, developers need to figure out how to build software that works on any drone — similar to apps like Facebook, which are available on every device.
In that respect, 3DR is aiming to make tools that will be used to build apps for any drone.
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