Why DJI’s $299 MINI SE is a much bigger deal than it seems

You’ve likely heard by now about DJI’s MINI SE. It’s being sold at Walmart and it appears to be the Mavic Mini with some slight cosmetic changes. So what’s the big deal? We’ll tell you.

DJI hasn’t said anything officially about this product, which is being sold by Walmart. So it just kind of slid in under the radar. No announcement, no news release. Just a few cosmetic differences to the original Mavic Mini, apparently the same specs, but with a big difference:

A lower price. Lower, even, than DJI sells it for from its own online store.

What a $299 drone means

Sure, you can look around on sites and find drones in the $200-$300 range. But none of them at this price range will have the pedigree that comes with the DJI name. The Mavic Mini, when it was released, was widely praised as the best drone you could buy for less than $500. And now it’s $299??? That’s pretty significant.

Of course, competition plays a role in market pricing. As a general rule, the more manufacturers there are of competing products, the more competitive the price. (Though, for some reason, this rule just doesn’t seem to apply to smartphones.)

But DJI is a very competitive company, and we suspect there may well be competitive reasons for this new MINI SE that go beyond simply selling more slightly revamped Mavic Minis.

Competition

No one else, at least that we’ve seen, has built a drone that can compete with the Mavic Mini at this price point. But there are other drones hitting the marketplace that are aimed at the same market segment: Buyers who want a reliable, long-range sub-250 gram drone without breaking the bank. The most recent entry into this arena is the Hubsan Zino Mini Pro, which colleague Ishveena Singh has written about here.

The Hubsan Zino Mini Pro has a flight time of 40 minutes – which is pretty impressive…

Hubsan Zino Mini Pro

The new Zino Mini Pro has been getting some attention: It’s got great specs, extended flying time, and retails for $459. (We hope we’ve got that correct; we’re in Canada, but using a VPN with a US-based server.) So you can see that a consumer considering a Mavic Mini or a Mini 2 might want to take a good, long look at this product.

But if something were available at $299? Even if the specs weren’t as good, that might tip the scales for some:

Wait, there’s more!

We can’t say with great certainty whether the Hubsan model played a role in the creation and pricing of the MINI SE. But the timing would certainly be a happy coincidence for DJI.

And yet, we suspect there’s more to this – and an even broader significance.

The Mavic Mini was hugely successful. DJI has long made back whatever it invested in the development and production of that product. So being able to give it a new life at a lower price makes sense. It also can now serve as kind of a “gateway drone” to other DJI products. Trust us, there are plenty of consumers who would balk at spending $500 on a drone they might consider a toy (though we all know these products are more than toys).

But $299? Just like sub-250 gram drones created an entirely new market… we suspect quality sub-$300 drones will accomplish the same thing. It will be interesting to see where this goes, but we suspect there will be a ton of these products under Christmas trees come December.

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