Research firm DroneAnalyst has just released its fifth annual drone market report, which combines findings from its annual survey and interviews with key industry stakeholders. The independent advisory firm has earned a reputation for being one of the most credible voices in the ever-expanding drone industry, and there’s a lot to unpack in the report. But, for now, let’s focus on four core insights, beginning with DJI’s commercial market share taking a massive hit in 2021.
Insight 1: Enterprise drone market shakeup hits DJI
Before 2020, DroneAnalyst reports told a story of DJI firming its grip on the industry. While there was a small, 5-point drop in the company’s dominance last year, this year, DJI has witnessed a drastic 15-point drop in the global commercial drone market according to DroneAnalyst.
DJI’s commercial market share now stands at 54% (by units), with Autel Robotics emerging as the biggest beneficiary of the market shakeup. In 2021, Autel rose to take up a 7% market share, 4 points above any other competitor, with a product suite focused mostly on public safety and creative sectors with products similar to DJI’s.
However, there’s still no true “runner-up” to DJI in the commercial drone market as the brands lumped together under “Other” have risen from 10% of purchases in 2020 to 19% today.
When you view this data from the angle of geopolitics, you find that US manufacturers have grown 9 points to take up 16% of total drone sales, while China’s share has decreased from 77% to 64%.
As David Benowitz, head of research at DroneAnalyst, tells DroneDJ:
The shift away from purchasing DJI drones represents an increased diversity and competition in the hardware market, led by a swath of new US hardware firms and their Shenzhen neighbor, Autel Robotics. Additionally, we have seen firms hesitate in procuring DJI products as they remain listed on the US Entity List, causing larger firms in public safety, utilities, construction, and more to hesitate in procuring additional DJI products.
It is of course important to note that this tracks new hardware purchases, so fleets likely remain highly populated with DJI aircraft.
Also important to note is that this data only reflects the commercial drone imaging market. In the consumer drone segment, DJI remains the undisputed leader with a market share of 94%.
Insight 2: Spending on drone programs is up
While 2020 was the year when businesses and public agencies spent more on their drone operations than in any previous year, the “average” drone program spends have gone up even more significantly in the last 12 months.
More than half of drone programs spent above $10K on hardware, software, or external services – with the largest growth being witnessed among the $50K – $100K range (by 12 points).
This surge in spending was led by firms in the utilities space. DroneAnalyst data reveals that about 45% of utilities firms with a drone program have spent $50K or more in the past 12 months. More than 20% of these high spenders doled out over $500K to support and grow their drone operations.
Insight 3: Drone service provider revenues reach sustainable levels
While DroneAnalyst reports have historically seen services revenues remain flat over the years, a significant jump has been seen in 2021. Now, more than half of all service providers are making more than $50K annually.
This is up from roughly 30% and is mostly due to service providers having a longer time to mature in the market. As revealed above, business spending is up significantly. And the research firm also believes that DSPs have benefitted from some service providers deciding to exit the market entirely. Explains David:
This is perhaps the most surprising finding of our survey, but also the best news for the industry. While we have historically seen services revenues remain flat over the years, we saw the first significant jump this year, with more than half of all service providers making more than $50K annually for the first time since we started conducting this survey. This reflects both a departure of many early entrants, but a broader rise in demand from business and agency users.
Insight 4: Software market matures and consolidates
The top two drone software brands (DroneDeploy and Pix4D) now make up 27% of software purchases, up from 20% last year – which shows the consolidation in the software space.
Interestingly, this consolidation is more noticeable in the Insights/Analytics category, where DroneDeploy and Pix4D make up nearly 50% of all software purchases. The Fleet Management software space, meanwhile, is still more open, with many freemium offerings and yearly movement between players. Additionally, DroneAnalyst found that many firms have tried out several suppliers, so the survey only asked about their preferred vendor.
Where does DroneAnalyst get its data?
The report is based on an online survey that saw participation from 1,866 respondents, representing 39 industries across 110 countries. The research firm also followed up with a series of qualitative interviews to gain more insights.
A key limitation with the survey is that it was administrated solely in English – meaning that data and figures specific to North America are more accurate than those in other regions such as Europe and Central Asia.
It’s noteworthy though that DroneAnalyst asked survey-takers specifically about their purchasing authority for drone-related hardware, software, and services, and found that over 80% of the respondents said they had final or significant purchasing authority, with over 40% having final decision-making authority.
Buying the DroneAnalyst 2021 report
In addition to the insights shared above, the 128-page research report features 92 figures and seven tables offering analysis on:
- Purchasing factors and purposes across commercial and consumer segments
- Which industries are gaining traction fastest
- The size and nature of drone-based service providers, what markets they’re targeting, and the performance of large service networks
- Attachment rate of various software types to different drone stakeholders, and more
You can buy the report here.
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