The drone industry is one of the major emerging gadget markets for in visual media right now (360° video and VR is the other big one). So far, the drone industry has been dominated by DJI, which recently received a $75M investment on what could be a $10B valuation. So yeah, the drone market is huge and is still just getting started.
Earlier this year, we saw 3D Robotics surge into direct competition with DJI when 3DR launched its Solo drone at NAB. On the edge of the radar though, Yuneec Aviation has started catching looks with what appears to be a very mature product line in its Typhoon Q500+ and Q500 4K models. Earlier this week, Yuneec added to the Typhoon line with the GoPro-toting Typhoon G.
To make things even more interesting for a third major player in the drone market, Yuneec received a $60M investment from Intel Capital last week.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgBRZ0oUZMQ&w=700&showinfo=0&rel=0]
Yuneec’s latest drones are already very polished and are really ready to fly out of the box. And I can only begin to imagine where they are going in the future.
This $60M vote of confidence in Yuneec from a major tech company should solidify Yuneec’s relevance even if its drone products aren’t turning your head yet.
Having flown the Typhoon Q500 4K, however, I submit that Yuneec’s drones are already on par with the competition and are slightly ahead in the ease-of-use department.
Players in the Coming Drone Wars
There are a couple more players that I’m waiting on before the Drone Wars reach a climax – GoPro and Amazon.
We already know that GoPro is planning on making a consumer drone to launch later this year, or possibly early in 2016. And GoPro really has the consumer product experience down with each camera being more and more successful than its predecessor. Expect the GoPro drone to offer a great user experience.
Amazon hasn’t announced plans for a consumer product yet; however, Amazon is doing and ton of research and development on drone use for a potential product delivery system. With Amazon’s penchant for creating its own products, I have to believe that Amazon won’t pass up the opportunity to produce an Amazon-branded drone for consumers.
Jeff Bezos has a personal desire to see Amazon develop and sell its own products. Amazon singlehandedly reinvented the book industry when it introduced the Kindle. e-Readers had been attempted before but everything flopped. Amazon figured it out and has continued to refine the Kindle to a nearly perfect e-reader.
Amazon has had its hand in a number of other consumer electronic markets as well – the Kindle Fire tablets, Fire Stick TV boxes, Fire Phone and Echo among others. All of these products have spawned out of Amazon’s core business that started with selling used books out of a garage in 1994.
With the R&D going on at Amazon to make autonomous package delivery drones, I fully expect that to eventually bleed over into a line of consumer products in the not-too-distant future.
Adding GoPro and Amazon to the mix with DJI, 3DR and Yuneec could make for some serious fireworks down the line. Iron sharpens iron, which is great for us, as consumers.