The commercial drone business is booming. London-based Interact Analysis has published a new Commercial Drones report, estimating that more than 150,000 commercial drones will ship this year.
It’s no news to the drone industry that the commercial sector is growing. Recreational manufacturers like DJI have been rushing into the commercial space with more prosumer offerings, and military manufacturers are producing smaller drones for the commercial market. But just how fast is commercial demand growing?
Interact Analysis puts the number at 68 percent this year, saying that new sectors are fueling the speedy expansion. “Media and entertainment applications still hold the lion’s share and will consume 85 percent of this shipments;” says a report summary. “… however, other industries including construction, building inspection and public safety are growing much quicker.”
The report says that 95 percent of all commercial drone shipments this year will be multi-rotor. “Multi-rotor drones are clearly the preferred platform of many vendors, including leader DJI, and the preferred platform for the media and entertainment sector” said Ash Sharma, Research Director at Interact Analysis.
The price point of small rotary drones affects their market share, points out Interact. “…the relatively low price of rotary UAVs compared to other types means that they will ‘only’ account for 77 percent of revenues this year, down from 80 percent last year. Conversely, although fewer than 1,000 unmanned helicopters will only be shipped this year (0.5 percent of the total), they will generate 9 percent of the industry’s revenue.”
Low-cost drones make up the bulk of the shipments – but not the bulk of the revenue. The report finds that more than 100,000 rotary drones priced below $2,000 will be shipped this year. “These low-cost drones are the preferred choice for many in the media and entertainment sector, with roughly three-quarters of customers selecting drones in this price range, but not necessarily in more professional or industrial applications like oil and gas.” said Sharma. Only 10 percent of drones shipped to the oil and gas sector this year will be priced below $2,000, the report found.
“Despite large shipments of <$2,000 rotary drones, the report showed that these types of products will be the smallest contributor to industry revenues this year and worth just over $150 million. Drones priced at $2,000-$25,000 and over $25,000 on the other hand will account for 78 percent of revenues, despite making up just 28 percent of shipments.”
The full report can be found here.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.