DJI’s Drone Market Domination

DJI’s Drone Market Domination

Author Nikhil Kanamarla

 Photo from Dà-Jiāng Innovations Science and Technology website. Displays Mavic Air, the company’s latest product.

Photo from Dà-Jiāng Innovations Science and Technology website. Displays Mavic Air, the company’s latest product.

Recently, DJI has announced a new, lighter, more portable, yet extremely capable drone, the DJI Mavic Air. This recent drone has only tightened DJI’s iron grip on the market. DJI, a tech company from Shenzhen, China, has become the dominant player in the drone market. Shenzhen has long been hailed as the Silicon Valley of China with 90% of the world’s hardware manufactured in its industrial complex.

DJI designs and manufactures all of its products in a vertically integrated process from low-end consumer drones to high-end enterprise drones. The concept of consumer drones has grown in recent years with more photographers and hobbyists as well as Hollywood and businesses buying these flying camera gadgets for an ever broader range of purposes.   

 Photo from Youtube video DJI Factory Footage that shows workers assembling the drones.

Photo from Youtube video DJI Factory Footage that shows workers assembling the drones.

Many Americans view the tech companies across the Pacific as fundamentally inferior. Due to lax intellectual property laws, Chinese companies have historically copied American tech hardware (sometimes software) products at a breakneck pace. However, this prevalent notion  does not carry over to the drone market. DJI stands as the goliath of the entire sector of technology; there isn’t one company in the West or the East that can match them. DJI has 85% of the drone market, similar to IBM’s industry control of the computer market in the 1980s. American companies, such as 3DR and GoPro, have tried and failed fantastically in the drone market. The 3DR drone came late to market, it was extremely expensive, and it was simply a difficult drone to operate. The GoPro Karma drone became famous, not because of its product quality but because they literally fell out of the sky! The drone market, which is located mostly in the West, has incredibly stiff competition, and the Americans couldn’t keep up.

 Photo from The Verge. Steve Jobs and the Vertical Integrated Macintosh in 1984

Photo from The Verge. Steve Jobs and the Vertical Integrated Macintosh in 1984

DJI hasn’t gained this power through theft but rather through brilliant engineering and design in a Apple-esque vertically integrated process. DJI’s location at the largest electronics industrial complex in the world allows them to prototype and iterate on their products at a stunning speed. DJI engineers and designs every single component of the drone, from the camera and stabilization gimbal to the battery and propellers. DJI also creates all of the software for their drones and optimizes the hardware and the software together to create a fantastic user experience. Vertical integration has allowed DJI to create the best drones at increasingly lower prices. Their most recent drone, the Mavic Air, can shoot 4K video while flying at speeds over 40 MPH for over 20 minutes. The Mavic Air isn’t a slouch in software either; the drone can be launched and controlled with hand gestures (or the controller) and follow subjects around while avoiding obstacles. Over the years, DJI’s product line of drones have increasingly been more robust, with low-end drones such as the DJI Spark ($400) to high-end enterprise drones such as the Inspire 2 ($3000).

 Photo from The Verge. DJI’s consumer drone lineup before the Mavic Air

Photo from The Verge. DJI’s consumer drone lineup before the Mavic Air

DJI, the Shenzhen based Drone company, stands at the forefront of the industry with total control of every product. Drones have become an increasingly household name as the technology develops. Drone technology has matured from the expensive and bulky machines to portable, cheap, powerful gadgets. These benign gadgets have been adopted by hobbyists, photographers, cinematographers, the movie and music industries, and a variety of businesses. Perhaps in a few years, drones will truly conquer the skies and deliver everything to our doorstep.

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