What a fall it’s been for DJI: The release of product after product after product. So many, in fact, that one of DJI’s senior people took to Twitter about it. And we thought: Yeah, that’s impressive. Let’s review.
We all know DJI is a powerhouse when it comes to drones. Best estimates are that between 70% and 80% of all drones sold on the planet bear the name of Da-Jiang Innovations, which translates into 大疆创新, or Great Frontier Innovations. And so we all know the company is big. But just how big – and the scope of its technological prowess – were hammered home recently. It wasn’t a news release or an industry report. Rather, it was a single Tweet by a senior DJI employee.
It spoke volumes.
One Tweet; many products
On November 5, DJI’s Brendan Schulman took to social media. This was the Tweet:
There’s a lot packed into that Tweet, and it got us thinking. So let’s have a more detailed look. In fact, let’s go back and review everything the company released in 2020. Because, despite the pandemic, it’s been quite a year for DJI.
April 27, 2020: Mavic Air 2
Who could forget this? It seems like so long ago now, but the launch of the Mavic Air 2 was a big one. A hugely popular drone, it packed a ton of features into a Goldilocks “just right” size.
May 7, 2020: Matrice M300
Ten days after that launch, another brand-new drone: The newest member of the Enterprise lineup. The M300 RTK brought cutting-edge tech right across the board. We’ll let DJI pick up the story with this launch video:
May 7, 2020: Zenmuse H20
Though released on the same day as the Matrice, the H20 series represents some serious R&D. Featuring a 20 MP sensor and Zoom, the H20 incorporated a 640 x 512 pixel thermal camera, as well as a laser rangefinder with a range of 1.2 kilometers. That’s some serious tech.
August 4, 2020: RoboMaster EP Core
Three months after the Matrice release, DJI was at it again. This time, it was an upgraded RoboMaster – a programmable machine with obvious STEM applications. This wasn’t totally new, per se, but was a modified S1. But still…
August 26, 2020: OM 4
In late summer, DJI released its latest upgrade to the venerable Osmo Mobile line. Now branded simply as the “OM 4,” the new gimbal brought stability plus great automated features to its new smartphone gimbal/stabilizer:
October 14, 2020: Zenmuse L1
The L1 and L2, we recall, were announced during a virtual event somewhere. They didn’t get quite the coverage of other DJI launch products, likely because they were accessories intended for the Matrice/Enterprise line. But there’s no denying serious technology is packed into these cameras, which incorporate LiDAR and a 1″ CMOS sensor for RGB images and video capture.
Video or it didn’t happen
Guess it did:
October 14, 2020: Zenmuse P1
The same day, DJI announced its Zenmuse P1, also intended for the Matrice M300. This camera marked DJI’s first full-frame sensor, and is tailored for photogrammetry missions:
Wait — there’s more!
No kidding. DJI was, in some ways, just getting warmed up.
October 15, 2020: DJI RS 2
The latest in the evolution of the Ronin line, the RS 2 gimbal features a ton of improvements over the previous generation. It can handle a 4.5 kilogram payload and has massive battery time… meaning your arm will give out before the RS 2.
October 15, 2020: DJI RSC 2
On the same day, the RS 2’s smaller brother was launched. The RSC 2 is the latest Ronin squeezed into compact form. But it still packs a punch:
October 20, 2020: DJI Pocket 2
The Pocket 2 is no slouch. Featuring a 64 MP photo sensor, this tiny wonder represents a huge amount of engineering. Seriously — how do you cram so much tech into something so small?
And, drumroll please
And the latest from DJI? We’re willing to bet you can guess.
November 4, 2020: DJI Mini 2
YES!! The DJI Mini 2 was released in early November. We wrote about it at length here, posted an overview video, and even a race between it and the original Mavic Mini. But we’ll let DJI tell its own story here:
That’s gotta be it, right?
November 10, 2020: DJI Agras T20
Yes, this agricultural sprayer – which had apparently been released earlier in Asia – was released for North America. It can carry 20 liters of fertilizer, has Realtime Kinematic Sensors in its controller, and… Well, let’s just let DJI tell you:
Anything else on the horizon?
Date unknown: Generators
Well, yes. Trusted DJI leaker @OsitaLV Tweeted that DJI was going to be coming out with generators before long. And, based on this photo, we have no reason to disbelieve him (or her).
Date Unknown: FPV Drone
We’ve seen links, again from @OsitaLV, that DJI has some sort of FPV system up its sleeve. We’re guessing, given the recent release of the Mini 2, that this will likely be something we’ll see early in 2021. But we could be wrong. Either way, it appears to be in the pipeline:
Let’s stop and count
There are actually some other rumors kicking around about new products coming, but without images or anything more solid we’ll leave those out of the mix. We’ll also leave out the generators, even though we believe they’re a real product with an imminent release date. In other words, let’s just count what DJI brought to the North American (and, largely, global) market this year.
We count 13 new products. Thirteen. What’s more, nearly all of these products would have required significant research and development. And something like the M300 or the Mavic Air 2? Those were major releases on platforms that would have taken a lot of work.
Which other companies can you think of that released this many products in a year? Maybe Apple, though we don’t have time to go count. But you get the point.
We watch the drone industry with great interest. And it’s clear, this year, there’s been a shift in North America. In the US, the Department of the Interior’s push against drones made in China, or with Chinese-made components, has emboldened other drone manufacturers. We’ve seen some of them fire shots across DJI’s bow, including some unflattering promos that had a decidedly anti-Chinese feel to them.
Plus, there was the release of the Blue sUAS list, which could be thought of as an “approved” shopping list for US government agencies of US-manufactured drones. Some say the list is about legitimate security concerns; others believe it’s more about trade protectionism.
Regardless, the combination of that limited ban plus the Blue sUAS list has prompted some drone companies to really push back against DJI.
We get it
And we understand that. DJI has long been the undisputed leader in this field – and should arguably be credited with many of the technological and use-case scenarios that have benefited the industry as a whole. When competitors see an opening, they’re going to try to exploit it. That’s capitalism, and it’s truly part of the American way.
However. Some of the companies currently on their own soapboxes have released but a single product this year. Others have released no new products.
Look at that DJI list again. And not just the sheer number of products, but their diversity. Think of the engineering – and the money – it takes to develop all of these. Think of the technological achievements many of those products represent. The Mini 2 has ridiculous capabilities, yet fits in your hand. As I tweeted earlier, there’s simply nothing out there that can compete with it – regardless of country of origin.
DJI remains, and will remain for the foreseeable future, the undisputed leader in this sector. Yes, some other companies have excellent products that are going to dent that DJI armor somewhat. Over an extended period of time, that could be significant for DJI.
But right now? Well, just take another look at that list.
And at those products.