Does it feel like every drone you see flying was made by DJI? You’re not imaging it.
A new crop of data confirms something completely unsurprising: most drones out there are made by DJI, furthering the notion that a DJI monopoly is near.
Coming in at No. 1: the DJI Mavic. Number two was the DJI Phantom, while number three was the DJI Inspire. Then down the rankings go the DJI Spark, Tello (made by Ryze, but in partnership with DJI) and the DJI Matrice.
That’s a whole lot of DJI. The first company to appear on the list that wasn’t DJI was Yuneec.
“It’s remarkable that more people are flying the DJI Matrice, a higher-end professional system, than all Yuneec, Parrot, or Autel models,” according to the report.
And no one should be surprised by this. An analysis of FAA drone registration numbers as of June 3, 2019, by drone market research and data group Drone Industry Insights found that DJI had a 76.8% market share in the U.S. Yuneec had just a 3.1% share based on that analysis. A survey last year by drone app Kittyhawk found that DJI drones rounded out nine out of the ten most commonly used drones (The 3DR Solo was No. 8).
The continuing DJI monopoly does have some people, both pilots and industry players, a bit uncomfortable. But its hard to blame DJI — their products are far superior to anything out there on the market for most use cases.
Skydio, which to be fair, sees DJI as its biggest competitor, agrees. The company that makes an autonomous, consumer-focused drone, released a memo earlier this year calling out drone companies to make better products, suggesting that the other companies need to step it up to compete with DJI.
“We have immense respect for DJI and the products they create, but the industry as a whole is not healthy,” according to a statement issued by Skydio. “The current generation of manually flown drones haven’t delivered on the ideas that have gotten so many of us excited about drones over the last few years.”
Politicians and professors are concerned too.
“The U.S. is over-reliant on the Chinese drone monopoly…doing business as DJI,” the National Defense University’s Harry Wingo said during a June meeting with the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Security. “Small drones are no small matter.”
During that talk, Wingo called on the subcommittee to examine the widening gap between China and the United States around the market share of small drones. Though, DJI has been quick and clear to dispute notions that its drones communicate with outside sources and without the knowledge of their pilots.
And a 2019 study of public safety professionals using drones, conducted by Droneresponders, found that, if offered similar drones made from either the U.S., China, France or Germany, a whopping 88% of respondents would rather purchase a drone from a U.S.-headquartered company.
For now, Chinese drone-makers are dominating.